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Australian Christmas Foods

Kylie KwongFor Kylie Kwong, cooking good food is a feature of the big day. Photograph: AAP

Christmas Day never fails to remind me how incredibly fortunate and blessed I am: more than 70 members of our extended family gather for an enormous all-day-and-night feast. Whoever has the biggest place, with the biggest outdoor area, the biggest swimming pool and the biggest DVD player gets the gig!

My mother has 10 brothers and sisters, and they all have children and grandchildren of their own, so for us Christmas Day is not just about the food, it’s also very much about celebrating our growing family and welcoming any new additions. There must be about 35 youngsters now, ranging from newborns through to young adults in their early 20s.

The celebrations take place around a table literally groaning with food. Mum sends me a text about a week before the big day: “Kylie, can you please bring your Billy Kwong XO, homemade chilli sauce, Goong Goong’s pickles and some white-cooked chickens?” I do as I am told, and usually take a lot more food, as I just cannot help myself – I am never happier than when I am feeding my family.

On Christmas morning, after collecting the sauces, pickles and chooks from Billy Kwong, I swing past Tai Wong BBQ in Campbell Street, in Sydney’s Chinatown, to buy several kilograms of luscious, sticky Chinese BBQ pork, some roast ducks and a handful of freshly steamed sticky rice parcels.

By this time, my car is filled to the brim with outrageous amounts of fresh food; the waft of Chinese five-spice permeates the air. Also packed are mixing bowls and trays from the restaurant, my trusty Chinese cleaver, wooden chopping boards and my stripy Maggie Beer apron, all in readiness for the full day of cooking that lies ahead.

The feast directly reflects my incredible Australian–Chinese family in all its diversity. Alongside Mum’s comforting red-braise of pork belly, potato and Chinese mushrooms, and the delicious pork wontons my Uncle Jimmy and his daughter, Bianca, fill and boil to order, sit bowls of Aunty June’s refreshing, very Aussie coleslaw and a platter of her pineapple-studded glazed leg ham.

My cousin Phil brings locally caught prawns with homemade mayo and a bottle of Heinz tomato sauce, Aunty Sue always insists on roast turkey, stuffed and served with cranberry sauce, and Aunty Connie’s roast pumpkin wedges always go down well.

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