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10 festive drinking games you need to play this Christmas

Make your drinking games a little bit more festive this year (Picture: Getty)
Ding dong, deck the ha..

10 festive drinking games you need to play this Christmas
Make your drinking games a little bit more festive this year (Picture: Getty)

Ding dong, deck the halls and let’s all get merrily on high – Christmas ‘tis the season to get absolutely baubled.

If festive drinking games aren’t a tradition round your way then 2017 is the year to get involved.

Time-saving recipes let you get back to celebrating. (Picture: Getty)10 Christmas slow cooker recipes that will save you time

Drinking games shouldn’t be limited to university halls.

Not only are they excellent fun, they bring people together and make us all feel tingly and warm.

Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Of course, all fun should be had in moderation. Drink responsibly, folks, and keep each other safe. We can all still have fun without getting totally grottoed.

So gather round, grab a glass and get your game face on with these 10 festive drinking games – think all the freshers’ week classics with a tinsel-y twist.

1. Never have I evergreen

Players take turns to say something they have never done at Christmas.

For instance, Player One might say: ‘Never have I ever kissed someone under the mistletoe.’

Players that have done the deed must drink.

As the game goes on, and players get into the festive cheer, statements tend to get spicier than a Nigella turkey curry.

2. Festive flip cup

Divide into two teams and line up along either side of a table, facing your opponent.

Each player fills their cup with mulled wine. Players place their cup on the table in front of them.

Starting with the players at the top of the table, opposing pairs must race to down their drink.

They then place their cup on the edge of the table and race to flip it upside down.

Only when the cup is flipped can the next player in your team begin drinking. The first team to finish wins.

10 festive drinking games you need to play this Christmas
(Picture: Getty)

3. Wreath of fire

Grab a pack of cards. Assign each card a Yule rule then spread out the deck, face down, in a circle around a glass.

Players take it in turns to select a card and must abide by the stated rule.

They include the ‘Mary’ rule, where all the women in the group must drink, or the ‘Rudolf rhyme’ where you pick a festive word then go round the circle coming up with words that rhyme. For instance: ‘stocking’, ‘rocking’ ‘locking’.

The first person to fail must drink.

4. Drink while you Grinch

Go round the circle taking turns to say things you hate about Christmas. Stuck for ideas? Drink until you can think of one.

The winner is the person with all their drink left – I think?

5. Fives (gold rings)

Players stand in a circle and extend their fists into the middle.

Each player receives five gold rings – fine, Hula Hoops – that they must place on each finger.

Each beringed finger counts as one, so one fist counts as a ‘five’.

Player One counts out ‘one, two, three’ then shouts a multiple of five, which can be no more than the total number of ‘fives’ in the game (for example, five fists equals 25 fingers, so the maximum total is 25).

Players then decide whether to stick out their fingers (five) or keep fist closed (zero).

If Player One has unwittingly guessed the correct multiple of five, then they are out, must eat all their rings (Hula Hoops) and take a penalty drink. If they are wrong, the game continues.

The winner is the last player with all their Hula Hoo– rings on.

10 festive drinking games you need to play this Christmas

6. Fuzzy turkey

Sit in a circle. Player One says ‘fuzzy turkey’ to the player to her left.

Player Two says ‘fuzzy turkey’ to the player on their left, and so on, so that the message is passed round the circle.

If someone says ‘does he?’ the phrase changes to ‘turkey fuzz’ and changes direction – until someone says ‘does he?’ again, when the message goes back the other way.

If you mess up – and you will – take a drink.

7. 21 Days of Christmas

Players go round the circle trying to count to 21. The aim is avoid being the person who says ‘21’ as you will have to down your drink.

Add in festive rules as the game progresses. For example, instead of saying ‘3’, the relevant player must sing the first line of a Christmas carol.

Or, on ‘11’, all players must jump up and create the Nativity Scene. Penalty drinks are allotted to players who mess up or forget rules.

Saying two numbers sends it back the other way, saying three numbers skips the person to your left and there are loads more inane rules in addition.

Basically, the drunker you get, the harder it is.

8. Reinbeer pong

Everyone must immediately put on novelty reindeer antlers.

Next, divide into two teams and take your positions at either ends of a table.

Each team sets out ten cups in a pyramid formation on the table in front of them and fills them with beer (or Prosecco for a an extra twinkly twist).

One member from each team steps up and take turns to throw a ping-pong ball into the other team’s cups.

If they are successful, their opponent must down the cup in which the ball landed.

The defending team may use their reindeer antlers, and only their antlers, to bat the balls away.

The first team to land balls in all their 10 opponents’ cups are the winners.

9. Rox-anta Claus

Put on Roxanne by The Police.

In the traditional version of this game, everyone drinks on the word ‘Roxanne’ but this is the Christmas edition, so everyone must drink on the word ‘red’.

Don’t worry, it comes up just as much.

10. International Drinking Yules

Player must abide by the following set of Christmassy rules.

  • No first names. Assign everyone a reindeer name instead.
  • No swearing. Players that slip up go straight on Santa’s naughty list.
  • No mentioning the word ‘drink’. ‘Sup’ is a good, Dickensian alternative.
  • No finger pointing. Get those antlers back on.
  • Left-handed glass holding only (right handed for Lefties). It displeases the elves.
  • No empty glasses on the table. That just isn’t Christmas.

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30 Best Oreo Flavors, Ranked and Tested

We write about Oreos a lot here. Like, a lot a lot. But can you blame us? The classic cookie has been around longer than any of us have (since 1912!), and there are so many Oreo recipes and desserts out there that frankly, we’re surprised that we as a society haven’t caused a nationwide shortage. There are few things in the world more simple and versatile as an Oreo cookie and milk (yes, that includes all of the 85-plus flavors in the brand’s history), and it’s safe to say we’re just a little bit obsessed. Case in point, this giant Oreo cake, these Oreo truffles, this Oreo popcorn, and this Oreo cookie skillet. You get the idea.

It was only a matter of time before we turned around and said, “Have we ever tried them all in one sitting?” We hadn’t. So we did.

Of course, there were hiccups. Although so many Oreo flavors have emerged over the course of the cookie brand’s 110-year lifespan, some flavors are hard to find on shelves. Some seem to be discontinued. Others are only available overseas. Green tea Oreos, for instance, are only available in Japan. (But whyyyy?) That said, our editors are nothing if not intrepid, tracking down a whopping 30 Oreo varieties for an in-depth taste test.

Without further ado, here’s our worst-to-best ranking of every Oreo flavor we could get our hands on. Let us know if we missed any favorites!


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How to convert a mushroom hater

As with any difficult relationship, Ollie, it can take work, but there is hope. “When you say, ‘I don’t like mushrooms’, it’s like saying you don’t like wine,” says self-confessed fungus obsessive Will Murray. “There are so many varieties out there, and they all behave in different ways.” The chef and co-founder of Fallow in London, who even grows his own at the restaurant, adds: “If, for example, you brine and deep-fry grey oyster mushrooms, they take on the texture of fried chicken.”

Perhaps a simpler strategy in the fight against squishy, spongy mushrooms, however, is to fry them on a high heat. “You need to be in danger of setting off the smoke alarm, or you’re not doing it properly,” Murray says. Then, as in life, it pays to be patient – and use more butter than seems reasonable. “Mushrooms hold a lot of liquid, so you need to fry them for quite a while to get them crisp,” says Helen Graham, head chef of veg-led Bubala in London. “If you don’t take them to the colour you want before adding other stuff to the pan, the mushrooms will never catch up.”

You could also try replicating Bubala’s charred oyster mushroom skewers. “We marinate the mushrooms in soy sauce, agave, coriander seeds, garlic and vegetable oil, then thread on to skewers and grill,” Graham says. “The agave helps to caramelise them, and obviously the oil helps to give crispiness and a really nice texture.”

Alternatively, pop a portobello in a bun. “I grew up in the Middle East, where it’s always barbecue weather,” says Noor Murad, who heads up the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen. “I love throwing mushrooms on the grill and slathering them in barbecue sauce [homemade or store-bought].” Melt a square of cheese on top, if you fancy, and serve with slaw.

It’s also worth considering how you prep the mushrooms. “You want to keep their meaty integrity, so you can really get your teeth into them, which means don’t chop them too small,” Murad explains. That said, a duxelles [finely chopped mushrooms cooked in butter with onions or shallots and herbs] might be a good gateway. “If she doesn’t enjoy the texture of mushrooms, make a very finely chopped duxelles,” Murray says. “The mushrooms dissolve into the sauce and add a rich undercurrent of earthy umami.” Spread on toast, add to omelettes or mashed potato, or go all out with a wellington.

You could also, of course, do away with cooking them altogether. “Raw mushrooms aren’t slimy,” says Murray, who suggests thinly slicing chestnuts or portobellos, dressing them with sherry vinegar (“or even a little sherry”), dijon mustard, olive oil, fresh herbs and minced garlic, then adding to salads. Dried mushrooms, meanwhile, have “second chance” written all over them. “They’re amazing, especially in the base of soups and stews,” Murad says. “You don’t get the texture, but you’ll get that umaminess – maybe that’s a good way to get Ollie’s partner to like mushrooms.” Graham agrees. She adds shiitake (“porcini would be equally delicious”) and kombu to stock, reduces down “with something tangy like pomegranate molasses”, then uses it as a sauce for cabbage. Happily, it’s good with other veg, too, so there’s shroom to manoeuvre. *groans*


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Preventing food fraud: Europe’s battle against the spice pirates

Spices are among the oldest food products in the world and still enjoy great popularity today. But h..

Spices are among the oldest food products in the world and still enjoy great popularity today. But how can we be sure of their quality and authenticity? With serious money to be made, counterfeiters are often attempting to fradulently pass off inferior products as the genuine article.

To find out more about how fraud in this arena can be identified and stopped, we went to Belgium to meet a spice trader – and also to see scientists working at the Joint Research Centre’s Fraud Detection Unit.

Spice expert

Herbs and spices are the daily business of Alexandre Veuve; he is the manager of the prestigious spice specialist and gourmet grocery store Le Tour Du Monde En Epices in Waterloo, south of Brussels.

As an expert in the sector, he always guarantees that the products he sells are of the highest quality:

However, he knows only too well that fraud is a common risk in this market:

“There is generally fraud on quite expensive spices, for example saffron. This is a spice that is worth as much as gold, so obviously there are a lot of scams involving it.

“Powders are also the target of fraud because they can be more easily falsified.

“That’s why we make our own powders; we buy the spices whole and then we create them ourselves.”

“There is ofen fraud on quite expensive spices – for example, saffron. This is a spice that is worth as much as gold, so obviously there are a lot of scams involving it.”Euronews

Europe’s food fraud unit

One of the facilities of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Geel in Belgium hosts the European Food Fraud Detection and Prevention Unit. Here, teams of scientists analyse samples of spices imported to Europe using state-of-the-art technologies, in some cases using methods similar to those used for police investigations.

One of the most powerful tools at their disposal is DNA analysis. The genetic map of the spice can indicate whether or not there are foreign biological elements present.

The most common types of fraud are the use of less expensive plants, or the addition of dyes to make the spice appear more attractive or authentic.

Antoon Lievens, a Molecular Biologist at the Unit, says saffron is a good example of where fraud is regularly attempted:

“We’ve found one or two samples that were not saffron at all and the sequencing analysis has shown that it was safflower that has been sold as saffron.

“Another exemple is curcuma (turmeric). We’ve found a sample that was not curcuma, but actually paprika powder that had been dyed or coloured to look like curcuma.”

Analysis via spectroscopy

The detection of fraud is based on a set of investigative protocols, each of which unveils a part of the puzzle. Spectroscopy is one powerful method; it doesn’t require special sample preparation and allows a rapid result through the examination of the samples molecules by a laser beam.

Jone Omar, an Analytical Chemist at the Fraud Detection and Prevention Unit, says this is a foolproof method:

“Spectroscopy is basically based on a ray of light touching the sample, which makes the molecules vibrate and we then obtain a light spectrum readout of the vibration of those molecules.

“So when we focus on a pure food, we have a pure spectrum for it.

“When we spot an adulteration, the spectrum of the vibration of the molecule bands is different.”

This x-ray fluorescence technique, which is also used for non-invasive analysis of artworks to establish authenticity or otherwise, reveals whether or not inorganic materials – such as sand or clay – are present in the plant sample.

Chemical tests such as liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry allow, through the separation of the molecules, the establishment of whether or not there are traces of external dyes present.

These same techniques are also used to create chemical fingerprints of spices, which can then provide even more in-depth information about the nature of the sample.

If the adulteration is confirmed, certain measures can then be taken.

Franz Ulberth, Head of the Fraud Detection and Prevention Unit, explains:

“One of the further measures could be that you send inspectors to check the company, to look into the books, to (examine) transportation papers, establishing a chain of traceability, to trace it back to the origin.”

The spice production and distribution supply chain is spread between different countries and this makes controls more complicated.

In a growing market of global scale, the use of these techniques is key to certifying the quality of the product.

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