The first of my two 2016 Christmases.
Zimzograd in Banja Luka, means that the Christmas season has started in this part of South East Europe.
Christmas is a time, well especially for me, that’s totally nostalgic.
I have always enjoyed this particular time of year.
Not because of presents and other material things but more the atmosphere thats generated around getting together with friends and family, spending time preparing the food that you know will almost kill you (just because of the sheer amount), and the smells and sounds that are so so evocative.
Living in London as a very young boy I always dreamed of a white Christmas, but was rewarded (on the rare occasions) with “slush”.
Slush is the quintessential British version of snow. It’s like half snow/ice and water.
And anyway, real snow in southern England is still a rarity, even with global warming turning the seasons upside down.
Since deciding to live in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina I have experienced “proper” snow however.
Not at Christmas, but normally February-March, when it’s not only DEEP but also COLD. Like minus LOTS!
I used to travel back to the UK to enjoy “my” Christmas (25 December) returning back “home”, in time for New Year and my “second” Christmas (7 January).
These past two years have seen me visiting the UK for an early Christmas celebration and being in the Balkans for “my” Christmas.
The Balkans really does feel like home now.
I try to recreate a British Christmas lunch as best I can, but due to the lack of certain “ingredients”, the result is something more hybrid.
So this is how this years meal appeared on the table:
Pigs in Blankets and Dates in Blankets.
Traditional Cheese Scones
Cauliflower and Cheese Pottage
Slow Roasted Beef
British Style Roast Potatoes
Traditional Mince Pies
British Christmas Pudding
Lemon Drizzle Cake
Fruit Juice for the “Non Drinkers”
French Red Wine
Balkan Craft Beers
As you can see, not quite the 20kg Roast Turkey and all the trimmings, but nevertheless a true assault on the taste buds.
Just like back in the UK, the older guests and family members retire to doze in front of the TV, aprés lunch.
Of course there’s always the massive clearing and washing up session after such a feast, but that’s a small price to pay for such enjoyment.
So for me, it’s now a short rest, before the New Year Celebrations and my “Second” Christmas on 7 January.