Your Christmas foodie fails: ‘My mother went into the bathroom and counted to 20’

We asked you to share your festive dinner disasters. Here are a selection

Cyril Kelly, Dublin
After returning from the US to live once more in Corca Dhuibhne, Nora began to rear turkeys. We ordered one that very first year of her enterprise, and recieved weekly updates on the thriving progress of our particular bird: "she is nearly up to the windowsill"; "I can hand-feed her out the window", etc.

We thought that this was returned-Yank hyperbole. But the post man eventually bore witness to her reports when he staggered up the steps to our house with this specimen, weighing 52lbs.

As I tried to hang it from the rafter in the shed, the six-inch nail dislodged and the bird plummeted down, her craw lodging on my shoulder, sending gurgles through her innards and malodorous methane from under the pope’s nose. My wife Breeda had to remove the legs to fit her into the oven. Cooking started around 9pm Christmas Eve with hourly inspections thereafter. Until, at the bleary-eyed 4am inspection, the run-off had clogged the gas jets and a lake of grease and turkey juices, savoury smelling and glistening, was spreading across the floor from the cooker to the fireplace opposite.

Turkey breast never tasted so moist and tender, as everyone who got tinfoil wrapped chunks for weeks after, agreed.


Ciara Kenny, Dublin
My boyfriend used to make chicken liver pate for his family's Christmas dinner starter every year. One Christmas eve I left the house to pick up some last minute bits as he was frying up the livers and onions and garlic and herbs, arriving back just as he was pouring the clarified butter on top of the pate.

On the countertop beside the cooker was an empty bottle of what he had taken blindly from the press thinking it was Hennessy. It was not cognac, however, but Goodall’s Vanilla Essence. The entire sickly sweet contents of the bottle had gone in with the blended livers.

A panicked tour of every supermarket and butchers in Rathmines and surrounding areas ensued, but there wasn't another chicken liver to be found. The pate was served up on Christmas Day without a word, and when the story was regaled to the family afterwards, they all swore blind they hadn't noticed. Someone else made the starter the following year.

Sheila Clifford, Limerick
I had invited my mother- and father-in-law to Christmas dinner. We were only married a few years so I wanted to make a right splash. To be different, I decided to have a baked Alaska for dessert, as Christmas pudding wasn't a favourite in our house. I had made this umpteen times and always turned out well.

The day dawned and all my preparations of the previous few days had come to fruition. The dinner was going brilliantly so far. Our house was a bungalow and had a kitchen-cum-diningroom with the dining area separated by a countertop. I had everything prepared, just to put on the meringue at the last minute and place in the oven while we were finishing the turkey. I had done this and was chatting away when I glanced over the counter at the cooker to find to my utter horror, the ice cream had somehow got loose from the meringue and was now oozing out of the cooker door and down on the floor.

To say I nearly collapsed would be an understatement. Casually as I could, I walked over to the cooker, whipped out the baking tin and went out the back door. I scooped off the whole mess onto a plate, left the tin outside the back door smoking profusely and returned, covered the plate with more ice cream and hundreds and thousands and served it as a trifle, all the while perspiring profusely. My mother-in-law, who was a fantastic cook herself, professed her delighted with my “trifle” and wanted the recipe. To this day I never let on the disaster that I had headed off at the pass! It was, by far, the most hair-raising moment of my entire life.

Stefania Alboretti, Italy
My brother-in-law was given the task of carrying the turkey from the kitchen to the dining room. The largest tray we had was one with fold-up legs, and as he entered the dining room one of the legs flipped open and caught on a chair, upending the tray and turkey onto the floor.

Luckily the diners were not present for this spectacle but my mother, who was coming behind him with the tray of roast potatoes, pretended not to see anything and instead of coming into the living room just continued her path and went into the bathroom where she counted to 20 before retracing her steps.

Once in the dining room she found the turkey miraculously carved in a rather haphazard manner - not so much slices of breast as lumps of both white and dark meat jumbled together on the serving plate. One of the guests declared at the end of the meal that it was one of the most delicious and moist Christmas turkey dinners he had ever eaten. Little did he know that most of it had been gathered up very speedily off the floor.

Donal Lawlor, Dublin
The hob broke on Christmas morning with the ham still to be cooked. Dad and I pulled out the BBQ and set it up outside the back door. Luckily, it could hold the weight of the huge pot. It worked a charm, and we also had barbecued veg with our turkey that year!