Christmas proper has come and gone. It was my first Christmas, in the sense that it was the first time I had cooked Christmas lunch. And boy did I go to town. We (me, hubby and the in-laws) had turkey, red cabbage, sprouts, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, stuffing, pigs-in-blankets, bread sauce and cranberry sauce.
There were only four of us so needless to say, hubby will be force-fed turkey sandwiches for weeks to come. I have also frozen some, to make Bridget-Jones-esque turkey curry at some stage, and made stock. Nigella told me to. Nigella told me a lot of things this winter, as I used her Christmas cook book. She told me how to make bread sauce from scratch and how to make royal icing (which was handy as it is one of those things that you can’t seem to get here, alongside crème fraiche, Hula Hoops and Cadbury’s chocolate buttons). She told me to make as much as possible beforehand so that I did not kill myself, or anyone else, on Christmas day. I went into battle prepared. I read an article recently about how women put a lot of pressure on themselves at Christmas and how it is important to remember that Christmas catering is not a competition. Blow that. The only people who don’t compete are the ones who know they wouldn’t win. Bring it on.
And not to brag too much but it went rather well. Aside from the fact that I inadvertently managed to cook the turkey upside down (which I am since told is actually a piece of culinary genius, as it keeps the breast all juicy) lunch was a success of gargantuan proportion, which means I can bask in its success and not cook another meal until mid January at least. Even if I did not get “best in show” this year, I would certainly get “best beginner”. Christmas Dinner 0 – Me 1.
We’ve had family out and have been showing them the best of Prague. A few nights ago we went to see Rusalka at the Prague State Opera. It’s the second time we’ve been to the opera in Prague, and an experience I would highly recommend to both residents and visitors alike.
Rusalka is Antonín Dvořák’s operatic interpretation of the Slavic fairy tale about a water nymph. It is basically the same story as the Little Mermaid. As the Czech Republic is about 600 miles from the nearest ocean, it is presumably freshwater version. For those who are not familiar with the story, the lake-dwelling water-nymph (Rusalka) falls in love with a human prince. The local water-goblin suggests that Rusalka visits the witch, Ježibaba, for assistance as she cannot leave the lake whilst she is a water-nymph. Ježibaba offers to turn Rusalka into a human in return for her voice. However, if Rusalka becomes human and is later betrayed by the prince, both she and the prince will be eternally damned. In true tragic-story style, Rusalka agrees to these terms and the witch turns her into a mute human.
Now, I’m going out on a limb here, but this all took place in the first of three acts. Whilst the opera was wonderful, really beautiful and cleverly staged and produced, there is a part of me that thinks that Dvorak was having a bit of a laugh here – an opera in which the lead female spends two thirds of the whole performance as a mute is a little bit emperor’s new clothes for my liking.
Anyway, long story short, nymph and prince meet and fall in love and plan to marry. Only the prince is a fickle b*****d and also has his eye on one of their wedding guests, the Foreign Princess, who is curvy, slutty and has the advantage of not being a mute. Ultimately, the Prices dumps Rusalka at the altar, in a manner akin to the really weepy bit in Jane Eyre, and goes after the Foreign Princess. Rusalka asks Ježibaba for help (you would have thought she would have learnt by now) and is told she can save herself from damnation only if she kills the Prince. Rusalka cannot contemplate this and instead becomes a bludička, a spirit of death living at the murky bottom of the lake. The Prince, now scorned by the Foreign Princess, comes to the lake and calls for Rusalka. He asks her to kiss him, even though it will mean his death and damnation. They kiss, he dies and Rusalka returns to her place as a bludička.
All of which goes to show, if you are a damp swib with nothing much to say and unfortunately attracted to cheating a***holes, you will undoubtedly be jilted for the red-headed temptress with the fabulous bosom.