From the desk of Victoria Holmes,
It is my custom to give my staff a holiday from the night before Christmas Eve (no Detective Inspector that night is called neither Christmas Eve-Eve nor Christmas Adam) until the morning after Boxing Day. I use this as my annual opportunity to show my family, and their rather disappointing friends, that I am as capable in a kitchen as I am managing one. This year, however, due to my unfortunate injury, I will be requesting that many of you take on a dish or two to help with the preparations. I appreciate you taking the same care I would to make this meal befitting a Holmes holiday, even for those of you who are less than Holmes material.
1. Three bottles of wine, anything from the bottom shelf of your wine cellar would be appropriate. 2 whites, one red. I know your generation has some bohemian idea that any fine wine can pair with any fresh food. That is utter nonsense. I have no doubt that future generations will look upon your cavalier attitudes with disdain.
2. Cranberries cooked with star anise, orange peel, and sliced apple. You may substitute pear for the apple if you find fresher pears but it seems unlikely. Please use half the sugar you would if you were making it at home. Not all of us intend to fund vacation homes for the local dentist. Please strain out the star anise pods and place only two on the top for decoration. If you mix the pods in, you are inviting even further dental disaster.
3. One block of the lovely truffle cheese you serve on top of your onion soup. Also, one the broth for said soup and any necessary accompaniments.
4. If you insist on bringing your bit of rough, remind him that we do not serve ale at meals. It’s vulgar. He’d best learn to drink something different. Please bring enough of whatever suitable alternative you agree upon to hydrate our guests. You know what sorts Sherlock is wont to invite.
1. Please be advised that most people eat three meals a day at regular designated meal times. It is not nearly as revolutionary as it sounds. Therefore, it is safe to assume that our guests intend to eat at the meal we are serving, and they’ve probably eaten within the past twelve hours. This means that when you are at the market purchasing green beans, you should assume that each guest would like more than three green beans but less than three hundred.
2. I would prefer the beans to be cooked in house. They get rather soggy if they are prepared in advance. Kindly take my word on this. Do not spend the rest of the week testing it. Other families planning holiday meals would be much obliged if you had not rid the nations markets of vegetables prior to the holiday.
3. You and your brother may spend no more than five minutes debating the classification of green beans as vegetable, fruit or legume. You will be timed. Both of you.
4. Parsnips are not white carrots. I think they’d be rather nice mashed with some yams. I also think this would be a nice thing for you to prepare for your mother.
5. If my meaning was unclear in point four, please make a mashed parsnip and yam dish. Thank you.
1. I am under the impression my younger son will be inviting you to dinner. You are more than welcome. Stories of battlefield injuries are not. Should there be discussion of wounds at my dinner table you may find you’ve received another. I am afraid my sons cannot be dissuaded from the discussion of such macabre things, and the whole meal would devolve into a horror show.
2. As you are a doctor, I am sure you are well acquainted with the current standards of food safety. Therefore, you shall be responsible for removal of pin bones on all fish dishes, ensuring that no surface is cross contaminated, and that all meats are cooked to their recommended temperature. I will expect you to provide this service for each meal eaten over the holiday period.
3. Should you fail in your task of keeping the meats safe for human consumption, you will be called upon to provide medical assistance for anybody made ill or choked due to your carelessness. If you wish to enjoy a nice relaxing holiday, you will be on guard against people trying to sneak raw eggs into the salad dressing.
1. Your condition is rather unfortunate. My request is that you do not bring any liquor to the party. It is not that I fear for your sobriety. That is your concern, not mine. People with your malady often value quantity over quality. That will simply not do.
2. Your orientation is of no concern of mine. What people do in their bedrooms, with the lights off, and the doors closed is of no concern of mine. However, people often comment that I am a handsome woman. This may be true. I, honestly, wouldn’t know. It is not an invitation.
3. If keeping my home free of bargain liquor and awkward sexual advances does not tax your energy too much, I would appreciate a cake. Rum cake is preferred.
1. If you and my elder son have parted company prior to Christmas dinner, you will not be missed.
2. If you have not, please do not bring trivia books, IQ tests, or board games into my home. Both of my boys are clever. You do not need to know which of them is cleverer.
3. You also do not need to know which of them lacks the most knowledge of popular culture. I assure you both have more important things to worry about. It’s a pity you do not.
4. Your name is French. That is unfortunate. Unless, of course, it provides you with a better understanding of bread. If you could provide us with three crusty baguettes, ten buttery croissants, two crisp, flakey pie shells, and a supurb wheel of brie, I will stop setting up blind dates for Mycroft until Easter. At Easter I expect several mini brioche rolls. Procure the necessary equipment in advance.
1. If keeping the roof over Sherlock’s head is as exhausting for you now as it was for me when he was a boy, you have earned the same three day holiday as the rest of my staff. You should not be expected to clean their rooms nor make them tea. They can live for three days without a housekeeper.
2. Please bring the herbal soothers we enjoyed this summer.
I am sure that if you follow my instructions that we will have an adequate holiday.