It’s that time of year where we are allowed to gain some extra pounds. Yes Christmas!! No matter where you’re from around the world we sort of have one tradition in common, that is celebration over food. And the most amazing thing that each country celebrates with its own special traditions and festive foods.
We cannot talk about Christmas without talking about the real Christmas town, Bethlehem. Originally Bethlehem means the house of meat or house of bread, Bet meaning house, lehem means meat in Arabic or bread in Hebrew. So no wonder this city has a lot to offer in terms of food.
Traditionally in Bethlehem, families will have a traditional Palestinian menu that consists of a mezze – starter, a variety of main dishes and a selection of deserts. The mezze may consist of a fresh Arabic salad; finely diced tomatoes, onions, cucumber and mint dressed with a lemon olive oil dressing. Hummus, Bitinjan bi laban, an eggplant yogurt salad and fattoush salad to name a few.
For mains we would usually have a stuffed lamb leg or roasted chicken, Kousa w warak which is stuffed vine leaves, zucchini and eggplant. Kibbeh pie which is a minced meat pie.
And finally, to end on a sweet note we usually have Kunafeh, a sweet cheesy delight with a crispy shredded kataifi pastry on top. Another desert that is eaten in December for Saint Barbra’s day is Burbara; which is a pudding like desert made from wheat , spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, topped with pomegranate or candy.
Normal French cuisine has always been on the top list of best cuisines. Imagine that combined with Christmas!
And nothing says France other than a palter of fruits de mer; a classic on Christmas eve in France. This beautiful selection of juicy muscles, delicate clams, sweet crab, luxurious lobster and those magnificent oysters, all in one plate served with a fresh squeeze of lemon and some hot sauce. Another French classic that people always debate on is escargot or snails. Cooked with loads of butter garlic and parsley, this dish is a staple of French cuisine that I would definitely recommend giving it a try.
Foie gras is also a French delicacy that makes its way to the Christmas table in many French households, served with fig or onion confit. Usually paired with sweet wines Vins moelleux, semi-sweet Coteaux du Layon or very sweet Sauterne depending on your palette.
And for dessert, people would usually have a bûche de noël which is basically a chocolate yule log. Or they could have galette des rois, this is an almond cream filled pastry that is in my opinion a great way to end a holiday celebration paired with a glass of champagne.
Scandinavia, the actual winter wonderland, has a lot to offer to the Christmas table. But since Scandinavia consists of many countries; we’ll be talking about the most popular and common dishes in these areas.
Let’s start with a very warm dish from Sweden that is Jansson’s frestelse which means Jansson’s temptation. It is a potato casserole baked in a pool of cream, and between each layer is another layer of pickled sprats. Defintly a dish to warm you up on a cold winter.
In Norway, the best way to celebrate is with a plate of nice juicy rack of pork ribbe as the center piece of the table. Usually served with meat cakes and prawns and decorated with lingonberries. Then you could munch on Norwegian cinnamon flavored Christmas cookies like krumkaker or berlinekran. And to go with that a nice warm cup of mulled wine infused with cardamom and cinnamon; and do it the Scandi way served with raisins and almonds inside the glass.
And finally, the United Kingdom home of the trifle and the pudding. Each year at Christmas people start to prepare a month in advance for the main event, their Christmas dinner menu.
To start, you can’t resist a good Pâté or parfait, with crackers and fig chutney. And a piece of advice here if you want to do it at home do it a couple of days in advance. Then you’ve got your pigs-in-blankets, beautiful chipolata sausages wrapped with Smokey bacon to die for. And then comes the centerpiece of the table, the mighty turkey; and if its cooked correctly it will be crispy, juicy and tender as it should be. To accompany that you could have a variety of sides like roasted veggies, some Yorkshire puddings, some stuffing and mashed potatoes. Once you’ve had all these on your plate, top it all with the silky gravy and some tangy, sour sweet cranberry sauce.
And finally desserts, my favorite part. Whether you decide to do a fruit trifle, a fruit cake, a Christmas pudding or all of them, try to keep some for others cause it’s that time of year where sharing is caring when it comes to food, or is it… ?