Christmas: Got suits stitched and paraded myself to church, says Culinary director Gresham

Updated: Dec 23, 2018, 10:51 IST | Ekta Mohta

When I was a kid, my grandmums were alive, and those are the memories you can't relive again

Gresham Fernandes
Culinary director, Impresario
East Indian
Grew up in Bandra 

There are so many memories made every year at Christmas. This Christmas will be special because my daughter will be turning two. When I was a kid, my grandmums were alive, and those are the memories you can't relive again. It's everyone sitting around the table, my mum's side, dad's side, one whole big family sitting together. I would wait for mass to get over at St Andrew's, Bandra, so I could get home and open my gifts. I was not interested in food: I wasn't a foodie then; I was more materialistic then.

All 20 of us would go to church together. There was no Uber at the time, so everyone would walk. You spent money on stitching something because it was a big deal. You only stitched clothes for birthdays, a wedding in the family or for Christmas. And, you paraded yourself to church. You showed that you were doing well in a suit. After coming back, we would open our gifts and the elders would have a drink.

In the morning, no one really had breakfast, because everyone would be gearing for lunch. The grandmothers and the mothers would be cooking. The fathers would be doing nothing, hanging around. Christmas morning would be making the food: roast pork, roast chicken, and desserts like marzipan and dodol, classic Christmas sweets. What did we do after eating? Sleep.

We still get together. But, it's super hectic with what I do. For chefs, it's the most hectic time of the year. I can't prep up for Christmas dinner and come back home and cook again. I've stayed away from home cooking on Christmas. So, I handle the bar or the market, or take care of the guests. I still go to church: my mother would kill me if I didn't.

Because of global warming and industrialisation in the city, you can't really wear a suit to church. Imagine standing in a suit in Mumbai weather for four hours, without any air-conditioning or fan. Mumbai is much warmer than it used to be 20 years ago. We would look forward to dressing up for Christmas, but now it's lazy. I'm more looking forward to my daughter celebrating Christmas. She's now exploring food, and that's really interesting for me. I want to be as traditional as I can. I want to cook what my grandmums used to cook. My style of food - very minimal, continental - is very different. For me, it's very important that I teach myself my traditional food habits and styles, and her trying those things.

How to celebrate Christmas: It is a nice tradition to put into place because you clean the house, put in new curtains, you decorate the space. Make time for storytelling.

Also read: Christmas: For us, it's just about the food, says Dino Morea

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