Argentinian Christmas Eve meal
“Growing up, Christmas day was celebrated at our house with all our extended family. It was always a huge celebration, and being Croatian, the food was a big part of that celebration. Every Christmas my father would cook a spit roasted pig for a couple of reasons. The first is that it is a family tradition which stems from Croatia, where spit roasted pig and lamb reign supreme. Secondly it’s a practical solution to having to feed all the hungry relatives. My Father and I would get up early in the morning prepare the pig, the fire and get to roasting the pig. The process of cooking the pig, watching over it, the entire family coming outside to check on it eagerly awaiting, pulling bits of crispy skin off the pig and lastly chopping it up and serving it at lunch is absolutely wonderful. If you’re a food lover, spit roasting a pig is something you must try for yourself. My father is no longer with us, but, my brother and I have continued this tradition and I hope that one day my son will do the same”, says Mate.
Inuit inhabit these rather cold lands belonging to Denmark. There are some rather unusual and maybe even gross foods eaten at Christmas time in Greenland. ‘Mattak’ is whale skin with a strip of blubber inside. It is supposed to taste like fresh coconut, but is often too tough to chew and is usually swallowed. Another Christmas food is ‘kiviak’. This is the raw flesh of little auks (a type of arctic bird) which have been buried whole in sealskin for several months until they have reached an advanced stage of decomposition. Although it sounds strange, it is a delicacy in Greenland. Turkey sounds more appetizing to me but then again, we have some pretty strange Christmas traditions in Spain too.
Other popular foods in Greenland include ‘suaasat’ which is a soup/stew, barbecued caribou, fish either as raw sushi or cooked and a popular desert is berries and apples with a crisp Topping. Lots of Danish pastries are also eaten.
Traditional, historic, Christmas food in Ireland include a round cake, full of caraway seeds. One is traditionally made for each person in the house. Now it’s more common to have a Christmas Cake like those in the UK, a rich fruit cake covered with marzipan and decorated with icing.
And an addition to turkey for Christmas dinner, sometimes spiced beef (spiced over several days, cooked, and then pressed) is eaten. This can be served hot or cold. Dessert is commonly a Christmas Pudding.
Christmas eve meal consists of fish and cabbage and a special kind of poppy bread/cake called ‘Beigli’. Gingerbread is also a traditionally eaten at Christmas. The poppy seed bread I am told tastes much better than it looks.
Thanks to my friend and published writer Carlos for providing the photo.
The Malagasy Christmas meal consists of chicken or pork with rice, the major staple in the country. What makes the country interesting is the tradition to eat fresh lychees on Christmas Day. These are bought from shops and street sellers, fresh from the trees and fill the streets with lychee skins.
Being so close to Spain, Portugal shares similar Christmas traditions. Apart from eating roasted chicken or alike and for bacalao or cod fish to be a common staple, Portuguese also end the meal with a Bolo do Reis, or a cake of Kings, alluding to the Three Wise Men that brought gifts to Jesus in the stables. We eat the same in Spain, but on Epiphany, 6th of January, when presents are exchanged, because it is the day the Three Wise Men reached Jesus. The tale says that whoever gets the hidden hard bean in the cake will have bad luck and has to pay for the cake whereas whoever gets the little king figurine will be lucky all year. The cakes often come with a paper golden crown to crown the lucky person.
Thanks again to my friend Carlos for the photo, he is married to a Hungarian hence the multi-cultural Christmas.
At home, we eat a traditional meal that is served only on Christmas Day. In Catalunya, traditionally, the 24th Eve is not really a celebration but Christmas Day is big and may involve a whole day of eating. For starters a sea snail shaped pasta broth called “escudella” is cooked for hours with chicken, beef, pork and bones to give it a yummy taste. The soup is also filled with many vegetables and with minced meat balls cooked in the soup. As a main, some families cook duck or chicken or others may opt for a seafood feast.
The most important part are the sweets. From the sugar and almond based turrones to soft polvorones, marcipans and neules, a rolled waffle biscuit. Since lunch is eaten late, it may finish at dinner time.
Traditional Venezuelan Christmas foods include ‘Hallacas’ – a mixture of beef, pork, chicken, capers, raisins, and olives that is wrapped in maize and plantain leaves and tied up with string into a parcel and then boiled or steamed afterwards; the Pan de Jamón – a type of bread that’s made with puff pastry, filled up with ham, raisins, olives and bacon and shaped like a ‘swiss roll’! Chicken Salad and Pernil (a leg of pork).
New Zealanders, like Aussies, celebrate Christmas in the middle of the summer. Think flip flops and beach barbecues and you have the typical Christmas meal. For dessert, they tend to eat fruit puddings and ice cream or the famous pavlovas.
Thanks to my friend Steve for sharing the photo of his wife’s wonderful pavlova
In Mexico a lot of people eat typical Mexican dishes on Christmas day, especially tamales, like in other parts of Central and South America, as well as bunuelos, an essential Mexican dish usually served with syrup. It is the desert dish at the end of the meal. My friend Marisa, who gave me the photo, also eats bacalao a la Vizcaina, a cod fish with peppers.
This post was completed with the help of Why Christmas, a complete guide to Christmas traditions around the world.