Got your noodle in a knot over whether to parboil your potatoes or reheat your rigatoni? Stars of The Katering Show, intolerable foodie Kate McLennan and food intolerant friend Kate McCartney, tackle your vexing culinary questions. Our serving suggestion? Take their advice with a generous pinch of salt.
1. I love your booze reviews. What trendy drinks should I buy to serve at a Christmas party?
McC says: HOW FUN ARE CHRISTMAS PARTIES, BJORN?!!!
That's a genuine question, Bjorn. Please be specific. These days I only see three people; my kid, my cat and McLennan, so I don't get invited to parties. It's fine though, because it means I'm never hungover so I can rise early in the morning and eat toast over the sink, like a sad collab between Cotton On and an Edward Hopper painting.
However, all is not lost. Let me cast my mind back to when I used to go to parties and I'll try to remember some trendy drinks:
Sub Zeros. The heavy-water reactor je ne sais quoi of this alco-pop is enhanced by drinking it in a park in 1996 when you are a girl who is quietly listening to that conversation that all straight white teenage dudes have about The Doors. The conversation goes for two years, a lot of it is silence and head-nodding, and if an unthinking girl makes a noise, or a movement in their peripheral vision - thus distracting them from their holy purpose - then they have to start the conversation all over again.
Blue Curacao and lemonade. This is a really lovely blue-tasting drink that has the added benefit of making you urinate green like you're Mighty Poseidon and you can play the seas like a keytar.
Midori Illusion Shaker. From memory this drink can only be accessed via a hose that's coming out of a custom-built backpack that is in turn being carried by a 19-year-old promotional model who just wants to exit the club and go to bed, leaving you all to writhe around on the dance floor to the pounding base of C'est La Vie by BeWitched.
Cognac. I went on a date once in 2003 and it was to a cognac tasting at a bar. I have no excuse for being a party to that cocksnappery, except to say that it was a different time and I was confused and wearing kitten heels with very baggy jeans.
That night, as per the (assumedly) regular framework of a cognac tasting, I tried a variety of cognacs. And although this experience was 13 years ago, I feel like cognac is still trendy because cognac tastes like the Exxon oil spill, and Reg Tillerson is hot-hot-hot right now. In fact, he's so hot here's hoping he self-combusts, next to, say, Steve Bannon.
When it comes to cocktails, the more sugar and food colouring, the better. Photo: iStock
Anyway, I guess those are my suggestions. Whatever happens, please invite me to your Christmas party, Bjorn, because it's grim round these parts. The closest we've come to a Christmas celebration is McLennan's suggestion that we go and "look at a plant (she) wants to buy" during our 20-minute lunch break. So in summary, please save me immediately.
2. I love my family but we have totally different politics. How can I avoid the Trump card being played at holiday dinners, and putting everyone off their food?
McC says: I say go hard, Kelly. Thunderdome your family holiday dinners. Sort the wheat from the chaff. Not to be too dramatic, but if the trajectory of 2016 was anything to go by, we're maybe 4 months off a Water World situation and along with learning how to ride the back of a tiger shark with a knife between your teeth, you've also got to pick a side.
Oh, you think reducing homophobic and transphobic bullying and discrimination in schools is going to tear the fabric of our super cool, super cruisy Australian existence apart, do you Uncle Greg? Time to put down that fork and GO STAND IN THE PANTRY TILL YOU'RE LESS OF AN ARSEHAT, UNCLE GREG.
Oh, you think the Irish were slaves too, do you Aunty Helen? You take your second helping of pudding and YOU GET OUT OF MY PARENTS' HOUSE AND YOU CLOSE THE SCREEN DOOR AFTER YOU BECAUSE OF THE DOG.
Don't think the date of Australia Day should be changed, do you Carol? HEAD TO THE HILLS, CAROL, BEFORE I PIFF THIS TURKEY LEG AT YOU AND MISS TERRIBLY BECAUSE I DID NOT PLAY SPORTS AT SCHOOL BECAUSE OF THE PATRIARCHY AND ALSO A TOTAL LACK OF INTEREST.
Can't believe that the US is being so selectively outraged at Russia's interference with the US election given their own history of meddling in other countries' elections, eh Cousin Freya? WELL THAT'S ACTUALLY AN INTERESTING POINT I'LL NEED TO RESEARCH THAT MORE, THANKS COUSIN FREYA, DO YOU WANT SOME MORE BEANS?
McL says: Karen, your elitist attitude is exactly why we are in this mess in the first place. You've been too busy buying your smashed avocado and soy matchstick lattes and compostable diaphragms to realise that white people are suffering.
That's why I suggest you sit down with your uncles and aunties on Christmas Day, perhaps after they've finished eating their seafood buffet lunch, and really listen to them and hear their thoughts on why they "don't like the direction this country is heading." Let them finally have a voice, Karen, because they've been silent and repressed for far too long. Then once they've finished their ranting and sucking back of Coffin Bay Oysters you need to start thinking about how you can make things better for them; because everybody knows that the only hope of achieving equality for all man-kind is to ensure that all the white people are happy and really rich first. As you can imagine, it's very hard to open your hearts to the children of Syria when you've just had a nightmare run on the Peninsula Link.
Or you know, just do what I do and start clapping and chanting "Mmmmm! Best pav yet! Best pav yet! Best pav yet!" whenever anyone starts to tee off on a minority that they've literally never clapped eyes on.
Pavlova saves Christmas, yet again. Photo: iStock
3. My sister-in-law insists we only bring healthy food to Christmas lunch this year. I'm feeling very flat about it. Should I rebel?
McC says: Hi Florina. I can understand your frustration. I know I get angry when people insist that I cook healthy food for an event, or cook for an event at all, or cook at home, or engage with food in anyway, or listen to jazz, because jazz is like listening to a clarinet trying to stabilise its moods.
But let's look at each other in our good eye and speak plainly, Florina: that stodgy English Christmas food isn't actually good, is it?
No one in Australia needs to carb load in December; we're not shaking the kilojoules out of us in the bitter cold. I'm personally sick of eating a traditional English Christmas meal of dormouse dunked in suet and a side of hot gravy boots when we're in the Antipodes, it's 45 degrees Celsius outside and the polar Ice caps are melting like a Calippo under a bum.
Also, everyone stop making Christmas about food. Aside from a shared ice addiction, food is the worst way to bring a family together. Family meals are long and require too much cutlery, and you are normally stuck in a chair at a weird angle next to a homophobe who is also psychic, and often all the food - inclusive of dessert - has onion in it. And onion, we all know, is the main cause of farting in Kate McCartneys.
In summary, tell your sister-in-law to scrap the lunch aspect of Christmas lunch altogether. Just buy some quoits, some cool drinks - maybe even a Tesla home battery if you want to be a responsible consumer - and let your family be the revolution, Florina. And if muscle memory makes you feel like you need to eat, just eat some watermelon. Watermelon is temperature-appropriate and the seeds turned into a superfood this year. Plus a watermelon looks like a head so you can put a Santa hat on it and pretend to talk to it when the homophobe is wafting your way, looking to spread some Christmas hate.
McL says: Hi Florina, You know what? Your sister-in-law is doing her shitting best. Maybe she's just really concerned for you guys, particularly with your family history of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and gout. Perhaps she's wanting to avoid a situation like the last family gathering where you bought a deconstructed nacho plate and it made Nan spring a leak. Cut her some freaking slack Florina. And what kind of name is Florina anyway? It sounds like a feminine hygiene spray for cats. You leave those cats alone.
For the record, I think your sister-in-law is doing a remarkable job; she's raising a child, working two jobs, writing this column, suffering from a nasty head cold and is dealing with the demands of being a woman in a patriarchal society that is hell bent on destroying her one Daily Telegraph article at a time. Just take a toss salad, Florino, and shut the hell up. And for the love of shortbread, give her a hand with the dishes and leave when she starts yawning. She's so tired her bones are crying.
4. I want to raise my table centrepiece game this Christmas. What's the 2016 'turducken'?
McC says: What you need to do is take the classic ingredients of a turducken; a chicken, a duck and a turkey. Then you need to not kill the birds. Then you just need to turn up the Bing Crosby and unleash these live birds on your Christmas table. Did you know that when turkeys become aggressive they will leap with large, sharp talons, and try to peck or grasp the head of their foe? Well, you will soon.
McL says: Hi Miranda. You better raise your table centrepiece game in 2016 because we heard about your 2015 efforts, and frankly, we're disgusted. You should give back your Woman Membership because you failed us Miranda.
Having said that, I'm so glad that you've reached out to us - two women who know everything because they've been on the telly - because we can absolutely help you turn your miserable, shameful life around.
Hear me when I say that the Turducken of 2016 is WHO GIVES A CRAP MIRANDA - COME JANUARY 20TH THE WORLD WILL BE ON FIRE!!!