The festive food traditions in the U.K. are great but there are other Christmas culinary treats throughout the world worth embracing. The added bonus is that in some countries the feasting starts on Christmas Eve.
Aside from Gluhwein, stollen and lebkuchen are an essential part of the Christmas diet. Stollen is dense fruit bread with a layer of marzipan running through it. The shape is meant to represent a swaddled Jesus. Instead of turkey, you are more likely to find rabbit, goose or even carp served for Christmas dinner. Do not forget to decorate the pfefferkuchenhaus, a gingerbread house. In the U.K. the most authentic German food can be found in Lidl and Aldi. I challenge you to eat only one of the stollen bites you can buy in these shops.
The Christmas feasting begins in Lithuania on Dec. 24 with a 12-course feast. Each course represents the 12 apostles. Due to the rules of Nativity Fasting practised by some Orthodox Christians, the 12 courses contain no meat, eggs, milk or cheese with the main ingredients being grains, fish and mushrooms. Popular dishes include little poppy-seed pastries called slizikai and silke su grybais (herring with mushrooms.) The fast is then broken on Christmas day.
Sweden is another country that starts feasting on Christmas Eve. This begins with a Julbord (a Christmas smorgasbord.) Think lots of meatballs, pickled herring, lox (cured salmon,) sausages and cheese. Like many other Scandinavian countries it has become popular to eat lutfisk during Christmas. This is a white fish that has been soaked in lye, making it caustic. Before being eaten it has to be soaked in water. The mild fish is served with a peppery sauce then washed down with a good glass of glogg (Nordic mulled wine).
In Japan Christmas is not a national holiday and is not celebrated as widely as in other countries; rather than a religious day it is more of a commercial event. Chicken is often eaten on Dec. 24 and a worldwide fried chicken chain has cottoned on to this. Some could argue it is just a clever marketing campaign. The Japanese also have a Christmas cake but it is very different from the U.K.’s dense fruit cake. Their Christmas cake is a sponge filled with whipped cream and fruits.
While in Mexico a roast turkey can be served on Christmas Day, there are big differences from the U.K. dinner. In some places the turkey is replaced with tamales, which are steamed or boiled dough parcels filled with various meats, vegetables, fruits and cheeses. Menudo can also be served. This tripe and hominy soup is often prepared on Dec. 24 and allowed to slow cook; it is then served with corn tortillas. The Mexican version of a mulled drink is Ponche with the alcoholic variety having a healthy dash of rum or tequila.
What will you be eating for Christmas this year? Share in the comments below.
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