CHRISTMAS DISHES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Quite a few countries celebrate Christmas, and eating seems to be a common tradition. If you’ve ever wondered what they get excited over on the other side of the world, here is a little taster. After all, food is what brings people together.
Iceland – Laufabrauð (Leaf Bread)
Crispy sweet flatbread is a holiday tradition in Iceland. The making of this deep-fried dough is usually a good excuse for some family quality-time; some Icelanders even jokingly say that it’s the only time men actually help in the kitchen. It’s first cut into intricate geometric patterns, then deep-fried and saved to be eaten as a side dish during Christmas dinner.
Italians Americans – Feast of Seven Fishes
Originally from the south of Italy, this meal is now celebrated by Italian-American families across the U.S. The Feast of Seven Fishes commemorates the wait for the midnight birth of Jesus, or the Vigilia di Natale. From lobster fra diavolo (spicy lobster with pasta in tomato sauce) to sautéed sole topped with olives, it features Italian-inflected seafood recipes.
Poland – Barszcz with Uszka
This beetroot soup served with small ravioli-type dumplings filled with mushrooms is a typical Christmas starter in Poland. Polish people don’t eat meat on this day; instead they treat themselves to a variety of fish and vegetable dishes.
Argentina – Vitel Toné
Also known as Vitello Tonnato in Italy, this dish consists of cold, sliced veal covered in a creamy, mayonnaise-like sauce flavoured with tuna. The massive wave of Italian immigration at the end of the 19th century / beginning of the 20th century has clearly made its impact on Argentina’s culture.
Belgium – Cougnou
Cougnou –or Jesus bread– is a sweet raisin bread that’s shaped like a baby Jesus (hence the name). Very popular among kids who pair it with a cup of hot chocolate.
Canada – Tourtière
Originally from Québec, this meat pie is now served for Christmas throughout Canada. There is no correct recipe or filling as the meat varies depending on the regions. Salmon Tourtière are popular around the coast whereas pork, beef, rabbit and game are often used inland.
Finland & Estonia – Karelian pastyv
The most familiar and common recipe of this dish includes a thin rye crust with a filling of rice. Butter, often mixed with boiled egg (egg butter or munavoi), is then spread over the hot pastry.
Brazil – Rabanada
Very similar to French Toast, Rabanadas or Fatias Douradas is the Portuguese version, which is served as a dessert with a Port Wine based syrup during the Christmas period.
France – Bûche de Noel
Served in most French speaking countries, la Bûche de Noel is a sweet roulade made out of coffee, chocolate genoise or other sponge cakes. The name and shape comes from an old French superstition that believed one had to burn a log for the longest period possible from Christmas day onwards. Wine used to be poured over it for good harvest and salt to protect the household from witchcraft. The coal was then used for medicinal purposes.
Germany – Stollen
Stollen is a fruitcake with bits of candied fruits, raisins, walnuts and almonds and spices, such as cardamom and cinnamon; sprinkled with sugar. There’s often also a delicious core of marzipan.
Ethiopia – Doro Wat on Injera
Food served at Christmas in Ethiopia usually includes injera, sourdough pancake-like bread. Injera is more than a dish, as it’s also a plate and cutlery. It is topped with a spicy chicken stew called doro wat.
Italy – Panettone
Originally from Milan, Panettone is now known and eaten in most western countries. Nestlé has even exported it throughout Latin America. In recent years, Brazilian Panettone have increased in quality and in popularity due to their low cost and abundance. Italian bakers produce over 117 million panettone every Christmas — worth 579 million euros.
Switzerland – Tirggel
We could have said Fondue, but Tirggels are traditional Christmas biscuits from Zürich. Made from flour and honey, they are thin, hard, and sweet.
Spain – Turron
Made of honey, sugar, and egg white, with toasted almonds or other nuts, this type of nougat usually shaped into either a rectangular tablet or a round cake. It is often consumed as a traditional Christmas dessert in Spain as well as countries formerly under the Spanish empire, like the Philippines.
Jamaica – Rice and peas
Rice and peas is the core of the cuisines of Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and many other English-speaking Caribbean islands. The dish is consists of rice and any available legume, such as kidney beans, pigeon peas (known as gungo peas), or cowpeas. The combination of grain and legume is believed to form a complete protein. Gungo peas are particularly associated to Christmas.
Lebanon – Meghli
This floured rice pudding is served when a baby is born and therefore became very popular on Christmas day, aka Jesus’ birthday.
UK – Pig in a blanket
In the United Kingdom, “pigs in blankets” refers to small sausages (usually chipolatas) wrapped in bacon. They are a traditional side dish to a roast turkey. Pigs in blankets can also be served with “devils on horseback”, an appetizer of prunes wrapped in bacon.
US – Eggnog
This sweetened dairy-based beverage contains milk and/or cream, sugar, and whipped eggs (which gives it a frothy texture). Spirits such as brandy, rum or bourbon are often added. The finished serving can be garnished with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon or nutmeg.
Japan – KFC Fried Chicken
You might think that eating fast food on Christmas might be a bit… sad, but in Japan it’s a real thing. Orders are placed as early as two months in advance, which makes fried chicken one of the country’s most popular dishes during Christmas time.