Wednesday 21 December 2011

Crimbo treats in PNG

So, it's nearly Crimbo. And this year is my first away from my family. Sure, I've collected a new tribe up here, but it's times like these that make the normally-quiescent homesickness flare up.

I've said before:

Traditions are wonderful things. They link us to a group. They hold out memories in their fabric of sameness and comfort. But like everything, they have to evolve. Not change, so much as evolve. Like Mater Beige's AMAZING Xmas pudding. It was her mother's recipe of WW II, when many "traditional" ingredients were unavailable. That particular recipe has now become the tradition for myself and my children.

My Crimbo normally looks like this. But this year it's going to be different. Many of the ingredients my family use for our traditional Crimbo table simply aren't availabel up here, or are horrifically expensive.

Rice four is not to be found (for shortbreads), copha (for White Crimbo) is nonexistant, 6 glace cherries cost me AUD$8, and the only sweetened condensed milk I could find in all of Lae was chocolate flavoured. Dried fruit (for mince pies and Crimbo pud) was AUD$7.50 a bag, candied ginger was nearly $11 a bag. An Home Brand Crimbo fruit cake (which you break down with brandy and orange juice, re-form into balls, top with a dollop of white chocolate and a glace cherry.. making mini Crimbo puds) was AUD$18. A bag of white chocolate buds was about the same... meaning my tiny mouthful puddings would have come in at about AUD$1.50 each.

A box of Cadbury mini-assortment (for the centrepiece  Crimbo tree.. pinned on a bit of tree-shaped foam ) was about AUD$30

Erm, we're also still under an alcohol ban, so brandy for custard, butter, macerating fruit, etc is unavailable, even on the Black Market.

Let's also factor in that it's about 31C with 81% humidity today (9.30am). Weather NOT conducive to working with chocolate or copha anyway. Speaking of weather, Sunday is forcast to have tropical thunderstorms and a high of 39degrees.

If I chose to have a local Crimbo, I could feed 10 for about AUD$20.. mangoes are in season, as are mud crabs. I can get a couple of free-range chooks for about AUD$3.00, a whole 2kg schnapper for about AUD$7.50, chako lif for salads for AUD30c a bunch.

But I WANT Crimbo trimmings. I want Aunty Linnie's apricot balls. I want Mater Beige's chocolate spiders. I want my family's punch and honey toffee and cauliflower cheese and prawn crackers and Santa jelly mould and threepences in my pud.

And the fact I can't have them makes me feel so much further away.


Spencer said...

Great pictures! Exactly what my sweet tooth likes!

Randal Oulton said...

OH! Crimbo is Christmas! Just got it... here I started to google what kind of cookie they were LOL. Good one!

Andy said...

I guess it's difficult to cook when the usual ingredients are not available. They still look yummy though!