Pöydällä kuorrutettu kinkku, jota koristeltu vihanneksilla, porkkanalaatikko, pitkät punaiset kynttilät ja jouluisia kukkia. Värikuva. A christmas ham decorated with vegetables, a carrot casserole, long red candles and Christmas flowers. Colour picture.

Christmas food: a ham and carrot casserole

Picture: Volker von Bonin, Historical Picture Collection, Finnish Heritage Agency

On our first Christmas together, after we had gotten married, my husband cooked a seven-pound ham. A big family and guests… A daughter and a son who did not yet have their own families came to their father’s place because the father was hospitable in the Russian style. He lived  in Russia for many years, that’s where we got married, and he knows how the Russians celebrate. Our table was always laden with food and drink . And then that seven-pound ham. Everyone came, ate and drank until they were content… There was simply everything… like on the table from the fairy-tale that gets filled by itself. Frankly, a lot! The children were happy to come to their father’s place to eat. We bring a lot of things from Russia. If we bring champagne, then necessarily a full box. Wine, vodka, herring… And ham, seven pounds… You can still cut it for the guests to take home. There is one piece left, which we then finish ourselves. Let’s make pea soup and put the rest of the ham in there, my husband says. I like the way he prepares the ham, brushes it with mustard and dough, puts flour and cloves… Beautiful… the ham is wrapped in tin foil and a tin foil pig is places on the top, and everything reminds him of the Christmases in his childhood. I have adopted it all. All the food is so good! All those casseroles: swede, liver, potato and carrot casserole. All of it. And then the Russian pickles and salted mushrooms. I salt a lot… All those appetisers… and all the hot food. He always makes a large pot, seven litres, of Karelian roast. A lot. He lets it stew it in the Finnish way, as long as it should. It is stewed, tasty, nutritious… At Christmas you always gain a few pounds because everything is so delicious. There is caviar, and butter, there is everything… The next morning one should definitely have ham, large pieces… Bread with salted butter and ham on it, and coffee … impossible to stop eating. Impossible!

Nina