12-15-2013 Christmas Food Traditions   Leave a comment

I’m what you might consider a “foodie”.  I love to cook and above all I love to eat.  It might explain why I’m in the middle of a six month weight loss program.  As a kid I always looked forward to the holiday season primarily due to my grandmothers Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners.  Every country and ethnic group has their own list of traditions for the holidays and compared to the United States they can be  just a bit strange and a few are a little disgusting.  Some are fun but they all accomplish the same basic things as ours.  Time with family, friends, and memories of past holidays and family members.

Here are a few I discovered while surfing which are very interesting.  I can guarantee one thing after reading them, I’ll never be attending Christmas dinners anywhere in Scandinavia.  I love  seafood but OMFG.

Japan

In Japan it’s customary to go out and eat Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas dinner from a nearby KFC of course. Thousands of people flock to KFC’s to enjoy some finger licking chicken and the Christmas rush has become so huge that some branches take table bookings.

Peru

In Peru, the big day is Noche Buena or “Good Night”, on December 24. On this night, after mass, everybody goes home to open gifts and feast on an elaborately prepared Christmas meal of traditional roasted turkey. At midnight, the adults toast with champagne and children raise their glasses of hot chocolate as fireworks shine in the night sky.

Bulgaria

In Bulgaria they cook 12 dishes to represent the 12 months of the year but they eat no meat. A typical feast consists of nuts, dried plums, cakes and banitza (a pastry). Walnuts are a necessary component of the meal as each family member cracks one in order to determine their fate for the next year.

France

Traditionally the French dine on a starter of fresh oysters served with rye bread and butter and lemon juice or shallot vinegar. Some households may also eat smoked salmon or escargots (snails). This dish is then followed by a second starter of Coquilles St Jacques (Scallops with mushrooms and white wine).

Italy

After the meatless day before Christmas, Italians often enjoy a delicious Christmas dinner that includes other meats. From lamb to roast beef, turkey or pork, Italians often include foods other than fish on their tables on Christmas day. Salads and antipasto are often the first course. Broccoli, eggplant, peppers and other vegetables are featured in side dishes. Pasta’s, a staple of Italian cooking, are also included on the big day, in baked dishes or as homemade vermicelli. Crostini, a dry toasted bread, is often included in the meal.  Fruits and nuts may also make an appearance as well as desserts and sweets. Try your hand at making belfanini an anise flavored cookie.

Puerto Rico

Popular dishes include roast pig, rice and pea dishes, coquito or eggnog made with rum and coconut milk, coconut custard, fried plantains, and nuts. Many families also celebrate with unique dishes only made during the holiday season.

Sweden

Swedish Julafton (Christmas Eve dinner) typically consists of a smorgasbord with julskinka (a type of Christmas ham), lutefisk (pickled pigs feet), dried codfish, sliced gravlax (raw salmon cured in salt, sugar and dill), pickled herring and an assortment of sweets.

Norway

They enjoy pinnekjøtt which is salted lamb ribs for the main course. To compliment the meat they tend to eat mashed rutabaga (also known as swede) which is kind of like our turnips.  Another favorite meat at Christmas is the lambs head to go along with the lamb ribs. This is boiled and salted (minus the brains) and the head is eaten from front to back with the tongue and eye muscles being particularly yummy cuts.

Czech Republic

Christmas is a very religious and peaceful time in the Czech Republic and everyone fasts for one day in the run up to the Christmas meal. They then start with a fish soup which is followed by the tradition of carp. This is often accompanied by a potato salad including onions, cooked carrots, pickled gherkins, cooked eggs and mayonnaise. This is prepared on Christmas Eve and allowed to ‘mellow’ for a day before eating. YUM?????

* * *

You see what I mean about Scandinavia.  Truly some acquired tastes there.  I hope you’re finished with your shopping and are preparing to relax and enjoy the holiday.  I know, I know, who am I kidding.  You’re probable a bunch of Christmas Eve shoppers who get off on the big crowds and incidental body contact.  Another unusual Christmas tradition that started in NYC on the subways. LOL

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