Saint Martin’s …duck?

The day of Saint Martin is approaching, and I am missing the Czech Republic. My dad’s name is Martin, and I am already looking forward to calling him and posing the never-ending question: ‘are you going to arrive on the white horse this year?’. He hears this question over and over every year and I think that he is getting quite tired of it. I do not think we have ever prepared the traditional Saint Martin’s goose at home before, but this year, I have a feeling that it is needed. Because of the pandemic I will probably not be going home for Christmas and it makes me more attached to Czech traditions. And so, it makes me decide to try to prepare this feast with the least amount of experience.

The first problem arises when I realise that it will be impossible to find a whole goose to roast. The butcher has them available by order only, and they cost as much as is my two-week budget. So, this plan falls. But I manage to find some duck in Tesco, which will have to do. I even found some proper Czech beer, which will accompany the meal perfectly.

After a quick consultation with my lovely grandma I have prepared the duck ala goose, baked on apples, with dumplings and cabbage. The smell lingered in our flat for hours, making us all desperate for the dinner hour to arrive. To top the atmosphere off, we have listened to some proper Czech classics, usually from musicals from the 1960s. It was a nostalgic trip to my childhood and to my homeland.

This year I find it important to remember these things. More than usually. For the first time in my life I will not be spending Christmas at home. Everything that I have always taken for granted won’t be there: vánočka, and cookies, and the potato salad. The tree won’t have the ornaments I have been putting up since my childhood. The fact that my grandma will come over, and we will have to google how to pleat the vánočka for the milionth time because we cannot seem to ever remember. Everything will be different. Both the Czech and the family traditions.

Even though I have been in Britain for the last three years, I have never spent Christmas here. My feelings about this are mixed. I am both excited, scared, sad and curious. I know I could be coming home if I really needed, but given the complications regarding quarantines and tests I have decided not to. I believe that I will still have a lovely Christmas and will come home soon enough.

Svatomartinská ...kachna?

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