OUTSIDE THE BOX
Family dinner – crazy, festive and vegan …
It was just before Christmas when the FaceTime symbol lit up urgently on my mobile phone, and the screen showed quite a number of familiar faces. It was the entire family clan, smiling from various windows and reminding me that it was my turn to host our Christmas dinner this year.
My stress levels were rising … Before I could even agree, I was already being verbally bombarded with food requests from everyone. Starting with my brother, an aspiring amateur bodybuilder who is currently on a strict diet and only eats protein dishes and mashed fruit, and continuing with my salad-loving daughter with an innate animal welfare gene. Thankfully, my chicken McNuggets-eating son is a little more flexible with his hearty desire for “something savoury with a really yummy sauce”. However, he did remind me to consider my eldest grandson’s hazelnut allergy.
In contrast, my son’s Muslim wife remained extremely modest with her halal request. After my rosy-cheeked Uncle Wilfried joined in and reminded me of his chronically sensitive stomach, I was forced to politely postpone the phone call to avoid a panic attack. I took a breather in the garden and thought about a patchwork menu for our patchwork family …
My gaze turned to the vegetable garden, now wrapped up for winter. Vegetables? A flash of inspiration hit me out of the blue. What if the solution was right here in front of me and could be found in my already almost exclusively vegan diet? After all, plant-based flavours offer huge possibilities for every taste and culinary preference: I can easily bring athletes, animal lovers, savoury fans, halal foodies and nut allergy sufferers together at one table. And my creative brain was already going through the sophisticated dishes I would serve my colourful family clan. My face brightened.
Christmas Eve was approaching and the whole patchwork gang arrived full of expectations after I had announced a truly exquisite menu. My eyes widened as my loved ones enjoyed my dishes such as verdura ‘tonnata’, roast chestnuts with parsnips and mashed potatoes or, alternatively, seitan goulash with spaetzle and an extremely creative – and, as I was told, stunning – interpretation of a ginger mousse. By the time I had served my vegan punch chocolates after the coffee, which even my uncle and daughter couldn’t resist, I could hear a collective feeling of well-being and satisfaction among the gathering.
In the blink of an eye, recipes were exchanged under the Christmas tree in a joyous atmosphere: Who knows, maybe there’ll be another vegan spread to look forward to at Easter in our patchwork family cuisine! But first of all, “Cheers, have a good meal, Merry Christmas” … and please always make sure you always have a good wine!