Monday 21 December 2009

Osa Johnson’s Christmas Menu

I'm getting ready to spend Christmas in Zimbabwe. Robbie has promised that there will be giraffes walking past the window on Christmas Day. I have no idea if he's pulling my leg or not, but I'll let you know as soon as I find out.

In the meantime, I've been reading Osa Johnson's description of the Christmas dinner she prepared in Kenya, where she spent four years with her husband, Martin. The Johnsons were pioneering documentary makers in the 1920s and 30s. The Christmas Menu and description are taken from Osa Johnson’s book Four Years in Paradise, first published in 1941.




Wild Buffalo Oxtail Soup

(with garden vegetables)

Wild Roast Turkey


Wild Mushroom Stuffing

Wild Asparagus Candied Sweet Potatoes

(Hollandaise Sauce)

Celery Hearts

Mixed Green Salad Water-Melon Preserves

Strawberries and Cream


Nuts and Raisins

It was about seven-thirty when I called Martin to announce that our Christmas dinner was on the table. He came into the room, and for a few minutes he just stood there and stared at everything.

‘Osa, it’s wonderful!’ he cried. ‘Water-melon preserve, too!’

‘This beats that Christmas dinner we had in London. The Savoy hasn’t anything on you, Osa.’

We said no more but just pitched in and ate. I had never before been so proud of a table, and I had done it all from the jungle. When we had finished, Martin pushed back his chair and came over to my side of the table. He took my hand in his. I looked up at him. Neither of us could say a word. It was one of those times when no words could convey our feelings…

Osa Johnson, Four Years in Paradise, 1941.

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