Christmas Around The World
Turkey, Brussels sprouts and pigs in blankets maybe the traditional fare here in the UK – but the Christmas lunch is very different in other countries. So here is our quick guide to how the rest of the world celebrate with their culinary choices.
In Poland it’s Barszcz
Poland’s Christmas Eve dinner begins when the first star appears in the night sky. The 12-dish feast (representing the 12 apostles and the 12 months of the year), traditionally includes carp, pierogi (filled dumplings) but kicks off with nation’s signature dish beetroot soup, barszcz or borcht. Traditionally they’re served with small, mushroom-filled dumplings known as uszka (‘little ears’).
In Denmark it’s Julesild
In Denmark it’s all about herring. Served as a starter during julefrokost (Christmas lunches enjoyed throughout December between friends, family and colleagues), julesild herring is pickled and spiced with cinnamon, cloves and sandalwood. It’s best eaten with a wedge of rugbrød (Danish rye bread).
In the Philippines it’s Bibingka
Eaten for breakfast after Misa de Gallo (Midnight Mass) on Christmas Eve, bibingka is a doughy rice-flour cake incorporating coconut milk, butter and eggs. The most luxurious versions come topped with melted cheese, salted duck egg and a generous sprinkling of grated coconut.
In Goa it’s Sorpotel
India’s western state of Goa was a colony of Portugal for four centuries, meaning Christmas here is very much influenced by Portuguese traditions. Goa’s Christmas Eve celebrations is sorpotel, a spicy stew. The dish consists of pork slow-cooked in cinnamon, cumin and kashmiri chillies.
In Finland it’s Lanttulaatikko
Finland enjoys its big festive meal on Christmas Eve, where roast ham, smoked fish take centre stage. The traditional accompaniment is lanttulaatikko, a spiced swede bake. The swede is first boiled and mashed, then combined with double cream, breadcrumbs, nutmeg and treacle before baking.
In Mexico it’s Ponche Navideño
Mexico’s ponche navideño, or Christmas punch, is an alcohol-free alternative to mulled wine. It’s made by simmering fruits such as guava and apples with raw sugar cane, cinnamon and hibiscus, is traditionally served in the run-up to Christmas Eve, during Las Posadas, a week-long celebration that remembers Joseph and Mary’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
In Sicily it’s Buccellato
Sicily’s Christmas desert is buccellato, a circular cake laced with dried figs, almonds and pine nuts. It owes much of its distinctive flavour to marsala, added to the pastry dough before oven-baking.
In Spain it’s Sopa de galets
In Spain’s Catalonia region, Christmas lunch begins with sopa de galets, a meaty soup with pasta shells. The dish is made from a mixture of beef and ham bones, chicken breast, pig’s trotters and vegetables, has to simmer on a low heat for several hours. Then, freshly minced beef and pork are rolled into bite-sized balls and dropped into the broth alongside the all-important galets, giant pasta shells.
In Puerto Rico it’s Pasteles
In Puerto Rico they celebrate Christmas with a variety of meat-filled dishes, followed by a plate of pasteles — plantain parcels stuffed with ground pork shoulder.
In Norway it’s Pinnekjøtt
On Christmas Eve Norway celebrates with the meaty smokiness of wood-fired lamb ribs. Pinnekjøtt is first dried, cured or smoked, and then cooked slowly over birch wood until the meat is juicy and tender.
Whatever you are celebrating with, from all of us to all of you – we wish you a merry Christmas and a joyous New Year.
Danny and All At Lidgates