Christmas dinner in the UK revolves around quite a consistent menu of soup or pate, then turkey or ham, before diving into Christmas pudding, followed by mince pies or chocolates and coffee. Making you hungry? I think we all look forward to this dinner, no matter how repetitive it is, but have you ever wondered what people are eating on this day in other destinations around the world? Here is a short insight into what the rest of our planet like to call their Christmas dinner menu.
Let’s Take A Look at Europe
Portugal and Spain
Here the population gathers around the table, not on Christmas day but on the evening of Christmas Eve! Their dinner is called ‘Consoada’ and consists of Codfish with green vegetables and boiled potatoes…no wonder the Mediterranean diet is considered one of the healthiest…This is then followed by a fruit and nut concoction called ‘Bolo Rainha’, as well as a fried dough with cinnamon and sugar called ‘filhoses’.
Here, Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine also all opt for a pescatarian dish for a Christmas Eve dinner. This is since meat, eggs and milk are traditionally kept away from the table due to regulations by the Nativity Fast. But you can be sure that there is no fasting involved on this special day, typically generations come together and prepare a 12-course feast! The fish dish is usually made up of herring, carp, or pike, which is fried in breadcrumbs and often accompanied with mushrooms. There may also be some soup and dumplings to begin with, before finishing with a popular sweet across Eastern Europe, known as ‘Kutia’, made from grains, honey, dried fruits and poppy seeds.
The Bavarians will opt for meat on Christmas Day, which could be either, duck, goose or rabbit, accompanied by potato and red cabbage dumplings. Then they will finalise their meal with ‘stollen’, a fruit bread, with nuts and spices and gingerbread houses called, ‘pfefferkuchenhaus’. This will all be washed down with the traditional and popular ‘Gluhwein’!
In Sweden, the ‘julbord’, or Christmas table begins with cold meats and fishes, followed by the main course, usually consisting of meatballs and potato! In Norway, they like to eat roasted pork with sauerkraut and boiled potatoes, or a steamed sheep’s head…I know which one I’d prefer…At least the dessert sounds more appetizing, a mix of cloudberries with whipped cream and sugar, called ‘Multekrem’.
Now this is an interesting one…ever fancied whale blubber on Christmas day? Not me either…This popular dish is often accompanied by ‘kiviak’, the flesh from auks, buried in sealskin for a few days before it begins to decompose and is apparently, ready to eat! If the whale blubber didn’t completely satisfy you then don’t worry, it’s time for your porridge. Dessert is a Christmas porridge, topped with sugar and cinnamon.
The Americans have a Christmas dinner very similar to ours in the UK, although they might save their turkey for Thanksgiving dinner and have ham or beef on Christmas day and drink eggnog as opposed to our famous ‘Snowball’ cocktail. For Jewish people living in America, it is traditional to eat Chinese food, with almost all Chinese takeaways staying open for the occasion.
In Jamaica, Christmas dinner is prepared the day before and will usually be eaten around the afternoon time. The meal consists of turkey, chicken, curry goat or oxtail with rice and peas, then there is a wine and rum cake for dessert, with the fruits being left to soak in the alcohol mixture for months before making the cake.
A Christmas dinner in Australia can be enjoyed in the sunshine and often begins with barbecued prawns and a can of beer, I think that’s something we could all get used to! Then the main event is usually a ham glazed in either honey, pineapple juice, maple or apricot. Dessert is usually Christmas pudding fir the adults and a ‘White Christmas’ for dessert, which is a no-bake fruit, coconut and rice crispy cake.
Perhaps the most surprising of all Christmas dinner’s around the world is Japan’s KFC Christmas dinner tradition! Japanese people wait in line on Christmas day for a bucket of fried chicken, which can be accompanied in a package with Champagne and Christmas cake to make it extra special. This tradition began with tourists who could not find a better alternative to turkey than KFC, with the brand catching on and launching a campaign in 1974 called “Kentucky For Christmas”. Now KFC has become synonymous with Christmas in Japan, with people pre-ordering their dinner in advance to avoid over 2-hour long ques on the big day!
Here, the Christmas dinner is not too dissimilar from ours, with main event involving either roast turkey, duck, or suckling pig, although most commonly serve with yellow rice, raisins, and vegetables. Dessert is a traditional South-African dessert called ‘Malva Pudding’, which consists of milk, flour and apricot jam and often accompanied with mince pies and a blazing sunshine!
So that’s what people are eating over Christmas when we all sit down to our British turkey dinner…Not all at the same time though, in the Southern Hemisphere Christmas might already be over by the time we get together for dinner. Some countries have quite an unusual Christmas diet, but many show similarities to our cuisine, such as a roasted or baked meat with veg and some form of carbohydrate.