Tongue, usually ox, that has been soaked and then rubbed with saltpetre, brown sugar and pepper, soaked for a few more days, with regular turning, after which it is boiled with some aromatic herbs and carrots. It is then skinned and cooled in the liquor, which should strained first. The preparation of the tongue is one of my memories of the build-up to Christmas. My mother had battered old pots and pans, real working tools with bakelite handles. My father sharpened her knife ceremoniously before carving the joint each Sunday morning, twanging the blade against the counter top to entertain his children, playing it like a saw to make tunes. All meals were a matter of great pleasure in that house, with Christmas being the best. The salting and spicing of the hams and tongues; the stirring of mixtures and baking of cakes and puddings with glacé cherries and rich fruit and sour smelling brandy; the making of the mincemeat for the mince pies and the careful selection and wrappin of the Stilton in a linen napkin were all part of the reassuring and loving ritual of family life.