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Mulled Wine Is Trash, Fried Christmas Pudding Slaps, and More Festive Reflections

Christmas 2019, according to food on the Instagram feed

Mulled wine during the event at the NSC Olimpiysky. The 27th... Alexey Ivanov/SOPA Images/Getty Images

Welcome to a special festive edition of Insta Stories, a column examining the London restaurant scene through the often-problematic medium of Instagram. This season’s filter is chastening.

Festive feast (conventional tier) of the season

The classics, done well. Don’t reinvent the wheel; this stuff works for a reason. It’s a Wonderful Life is the best Christmas movie. ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ is the best Christmas song.

Festive feast (chaotic evil tier) of the season

Cats is the best Christmas movie. ‘New Noise’ is the best Christmas song. Chaos reigns.

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The most wonderful time of the year.

A post shared by Grace Dent (@gracedent) on

Festive feast (god tier) of the season

A choir of angels assembles to sing ‘Adam Lay Ybounden’; Federico Fellini and Frank Capra are brought back to life for the sole purpose of creating a Christmas movie that will bring peace on earth and goodwill to all men. Romanée-Conti flows like water; Alba truffles are the baubles on the tree. It’s a mood.

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Christmas got off to a good start!

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Leftovers of the season

“Leftovers are the best part of Christmas” is the “Die Hard is the best Christmas movie” / “‘Fairtytale of New York’ is the best Christmas song” / ““Merry Christmas ya filthy animals” is the best Christmas Instagram caption” of food-related festive hot takes — it might have scanned as edgy a decade ago, but now it’s as lukewarm as prematurely presented bread sauce. Having said that, there is undeniably a twisted sort of satisfaction to be had in figuring out how to one-up the previous day’s excesses in the midst of a foggy port and Stilton hangover; in using up as many ingredients as possible whilst retaining a form of thematic cohesion. Here’s a tutorial.

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Yeah, so?

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Inadequate apron of the season

Maybe consider adding at least one extra layer before flambéeing the Xmas pud?

Product over-reach of the season

Kettle Chips, know your place. Stick to what you’re good at (sea salt and black pepper) and leave nonsense like this to M&S.

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I might have to ask this guest to leave

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Interim dining of the season

Those weird days between Christmas and New Year: is there a generally accepted term for them? ‘Twixtmas seems to be the most common, although the regal-sounding Winterregnum has a definite ring to it. Any takers for Winterval? Here are some people doing it right.

Dish of the season

After all that festive stodge, the perfect palate-cleanser.

Shot of the season

To close, a take hotter than chestnuts roasting on an open fire: mulled wine is trash. It’s either mouth-puckeringly tannic or headache-inducingly sweet; the temperature is always, somehow, wrong; it murders absolutely everything edible served alongside; there is nothing festive about hot fruit. But what if there was another way?