In Britain we love our traditions and have adopted many superstitious traits. It would even be fair to say that we have become creatures of habit. We would never dream of walking under a ladder with fear it would bring us bad luck, we are forever touching wood to prevent good luck turning and we love throwing salt over our left shoulder to ward off demons! Add to this divulging chocolate eggs at Easter, pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and of course Turkey and all the trimmings at Christmas, we seem to know exactly how our year will pan out.
But could you imagine no Turkey, Roast Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts or even Stuffing on your Christmas Day? We as a country seem to forget that our way of life is not the only way and that there are many different traditions around the world for this holiday. Perhaps if we looked beyond our own Turkey dinner and Christmas pud fixations who knows, we might even find ourselves swapping some Thai food or Pork Chop recipes for a Christmas dinner with a twist next year!
Ok, so some Christmas dinners from around the globe may seem quite normal but be assured others just down right unimaginable! There is definitely some different Christmas meals out there that will make you appreciate your Christmas dinner!
In Japan it is customary to go and eat Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas dinner from the fast food restaurant KFC of course. This seems bizarre that we spend all day in a kitchen cooking up our monster feast for the Japanese to pop round to get some quick, greasy fix! However, it is now a tradition. Thousands of people flock to KFC to enjoy some finger licking chicken and the Christmas rush is so huge that some branches take table bookings. Now that is successful advertising for you!
Now I don’t know about you but for me a Christmas dinner without any Turkey, Ham, Beef or meat at all would just not feel right! Cooking a massive joint for a ridiculously long period of time is all part of the fun so to speak! In Bulgaria they cook 12 dishes to represent the 12 months of the year (certainly a tradition I could get used to) but they don’t eat any 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.
Now I certainly wouldn’t mind adopting the French Christmas dinner philosophy. Traditionally the French dine on a starter of fresh oysters served with rye bread and butter and lemon juice or shallot vinegar, certainly a bit fancier than our prawn cocktails!
Some households may also eat smoked salmon or escargots (snails). This dish is then followed up by a second starter of coquilles St Jacques (Scallops with mushrooms and white wine). The main course however can vary greatly from venison, wild boar or pigeon to duck, goose or capon. But perhaps the best part is the fact that vegetables never seem to grace the table! Expect chestnuts, wild mushrooms and gratin dauphinois in their place.
Expect the main to be followed by a cheese course as is always the way in French eating. The one constant in the Christmas Dinner menu is the bûche de Noël for dessert.
Swedish Julafton (Christmas Eve dinner) typically consists of a smorgasbord (buffet) with julskinka – a type of christmas ham – pickled pigs feet, lutefisk – dried codfish – sliced gravlax (raw salmon cured in salt, sugar and dill), pickled herring and many different kinds of sweets.
Apparently, the dried codfish is not served “dried” at all and the supposed slimy texture simply adds to the repulsive taste of this Swedish and Norwegian delicacy! And just don’t get me started on the pigs feet as I am beginning to feel slightly queasy…..
At first glance, the idea of a Christmas dinner in a Norwegian household sounds OK. Looking at the types of foods they eat it seems as though their customs are very similar to our own at this time of year. They enjoy Pinnekjøtt which is salted lamb ribs for the main course – nothing out of the ordinary with that. To compliment the meat they tend to eat Mashed rutabaga (also known as swede) which is kind of like our mashed potatoes. Hence, you may think you would enjoy the festive season in Norway.
Yep, I would be surprised if that photo does not have you recoiling in horror and feeling a little sick! I thought it best to let you know that another fond of 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!
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 divulge in to fish soup to begin 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. I’m pretty sure I can smell the combination of egg, pickles and mayonnaise now! Think I would rather my roast turkey any day of the week.
Lauren can be found dishing out lots of healthy eating facts in her regular blogs.