As we hit December running and the thought of Christmas looms, there's no better time to get into a pickle.
Ham and pickle that is.
"Pat's Pickles" to be exact.
A bit of a Christmas tradition in our house.
Named after the Goddess of Pickling in our family tree - my mum.
Pat Walker had a magic touch with most things, including onions.
Somewhere along the journey she divined that adjusted with just the right amount of salt, vinegar and gay abandon, diced pickled onions make the most heavenly accompaniment for ham.
"A bit of this, a pinch of that and add to taste" were the general parameters.
Wise guidelines that stood the test of time in and out of the kitchen, and forgive me if I wipe a tear from my eye.
If not for the memory of dearly departed mother, then certainly the kilos of onions we dice up this time of year in her honour.
Preserving the legacy you might say.
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Indeed the cathartic journey of the humble onion in many ways sums up our spirit of Christmas.
Something you hesitate to confront at first, transformed into a thing of joy, celebration and communion once combined with a sacrifice.
Speaking of which, let's spare a thought for those menu items associated with festiveness this time of year.
Oh to be a ham or a prawn.
Still it is what it is, and who am I to question the weight of human history?
Let alone consumption.
They say ham's association with Christmas stems back to when Pagans used to sacrifice a boar to appease the god Freyr.
Freyr, was, is, and perhaps forever will be the god of fertility, harvest, and bulging waist lines.
Christians took a liking to the Pagan ritual and ripped it off, begging the question: who said Christians are dumb?
Thus the tradition of Christmas ham was explained enough.
Where pickles come into the equation is hard to say, but most traditions are weird if you think about them too much.
All I know is that bingeing bacon in an intensely short period while at the same time indulging in palpatative activities like shopping, gathering with family and worrying if the beer fridge is going to make it is surely enough to get you into a major pickle.
Still you enter December with a familiar gusto, probably because of that.
When it comes to ham, we're not so much into glazing, but definitely the eyes glaze over at the prospect of ham and pickles.
The recipe, like all great family secrets, was never written down but those who had the privilege to labour at mum's side during the famed pickling sessions now carry the torch.
It gets a bit dark in there trying to dredge up the exact ingredients, but love has a lot to do with it.
Love of ham, love of family, love of Christmas ham and pickles.