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Celebrating Christmas in Florida – Part 1
We love to celebrate Christmas in our beautiful villa in Orlando, when it is not occupied by our lucky guests, and we do not miss any of the traditional aspects of a British Christmas. Although Christmas customs and traditions vary across America, the one common tradition is that it is a time for families to come together – be they families linked by birth, friendship or marriage, this is a very important time for meeting and celebrating together, and we have certainly found our American neighbours very hospitable and welcoming.
One of the most important traditions is, of course, Christmas dinner.
We have celebrated Christmas in Florida in a number of different ways. When enjoying Christmas in our home I still cook a traditional turkey lunch, with as many of the trimmings as I can obtain. Turkeys in their millions are bought and cooked between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and so there is plenty of choice from the big supermarkets such as Walmart, Target or Publix. However, it is more difficult to find a fresh turkeys, so we normally buy a frozen one – making sure we give it ample time to thaw.
We like to have roast potatoes – and there is nothing quite so delicious as an Idaho potato – and oil to roast them in is easily available. However, finding more traditional vegetables such as sprouts or parsnips, though not impossible, is more costly, so we tend to enjoy carrots and broccoli instead. I can still make my traditional bread sauce with onions, milk and bread though!
As for gravy, well I still prefer the brands we buy in the UK so I normally pack an unopened jar or packet in my suitcase, plus some stock cubes, to ensure that we still enjoy the same flavours. American ‘gravy, ’ which is often served with mashed potatoes, is a little different from our dark gravy. It tends to be quite pale, somewhat glutinous, and with a milder flavour than our Bisto or Oxo brands. It is also served with fish, which we found quite unusual at first.
Sausages are available, as is streaky bacon to cover the breast of the turkey, but we have never seen a turkey crown such as we can buy in the UK.
We have been lucky enough to be invited to celebrate Christmas with our wonderful American neighbours, and we found that elements of the meal were quite different. Because of the many cultural influences of this great melting pot of humanity we were offered saurkraut and pumpkin pie, as well as saveloys and turkey. It was an interesting meal made all the more delightful by the welcome we received from our friends across the pond.
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