I know, I know, I'm usually the one complaining about Christmas coming too early - it's too early to hear carols in September, it's too early to buy mince-pies in October, etc, etc. But this year it's all a bit different.
Being a Muslim country most people here just don't celebrate Christmas. There is a sizeable Chinese population here so some Chinese-run stores (such as Hua Ho supermarket) embrace the season, as do some of the local hotels with an international clientele, but generally Christmas just isn't happening here. In many ways it's quite refreshing not to be assaulted by Christmas paraphernalia for months, and in this climate it would feel odd for those of us used to Christmas in England or Canada to be getting festive... but it's also a little strange.
Generally Rob and I tend to eat Asian food here in Brunei. I've always found it fairly unsatisfactory to try to recreate favourite dishes from home (not to mention horribly expensive) so it's rice and noodles most days for us! Delicious, and healthy too (we've both lost half a stone since arriving here in August). However, we decided that we just had to do a proper Christmas Dinner.
We're off to Thailand for Christmas, so we actually had our own Christmas at the weekend - on the 12th December. The 'tree' (Brunei-style) has been decorated for a while...
We bought a chicken because the only turkeys we could find here were huge - far too big for two. We did spend lots of money in the non-Halal room in Supasave though, and bought streaky bacon and cocktail sausages as I couldn't imagine doing Christmas Dinner without bacon-wrapped chipolatas!
Rob has always had Chestnut stuffing for Christmas, and it's a tradition I'm most happy for us to continue. We have rejected the tedious and labour-intensive routine of boiling and peeling chestnuts for this and now use a packet of chestnuts - surprisingly easily available here - and equally as delicious as the hand-peeled ones.
In an effort to keep the expats happy Supasave is stocking sprouts imported from Australia. They were extortionately expensive (over $13 per kg) but I bought some because, well, it just isn't Christmas Dinner without them is it? They weren't great though - too big and rather chewy - so I don't think I'd bother again, Christmas or not.
We also had carrots, roast potatoes, roast parsnip and cheesy cauliflower - another of Rob's (and my) favourite roast dinner accompaniments. I rejected the tins of cranberry sauce and instead we had my homemade apple-chilli jelly, which I had brought over from the UK (a small nod to Asian cuisine in a very British meal!). And Coleman's English Mustard. Of course.
We had also imported a Tescos Finest Christmas Pudding! It had been lurking in our cupboard in the UK for ages - years probably, since I have made my own for at least the last 3 years. I seem to recall Rob buying it because it was half price... if you know Rob you'll know that that's pretty typical!
It wasn't the greatest pudding ever, not a patch on a home-made one, and not helped by the fact that we microwaved it and the microwave timer got stuck so it had a rather longer cooking time than it should have done! However, we flamed it with rum, and doused it liberally with Rum Sauce and it did the job.
It was a delicious meal and it made us think that, despite the tropical climate and lack of air-conditioning in the kitchen, we might cook a roast dinner occasionally - this was our first one since we arrived at the start of August. We could tell we're just not used to it any more though - we were both positively groaning, we felt so full afterwards! Still, that's the way a Christmas Dinner should be!
I hope your Christmas Dinners are equally delicious.