December is synonymous with presents, parties, family, friends, trips, cold, snow (or heat if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere) and tons of food and drink, until you can’t fit any more in your belly.
We like to plan meals for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and a little later, Three Kings Day on the 6th of January. It’s fun and is part of our Christmas holidays.
What do you eat at home at Christmas time? Turkey? Fish? Meat? Obviously turrón, cakes, marzipan and grapes.
What do your neighbours eat? The smell coming through the windows of your house should give them away 😉
And outside your city? Province? Country? Have you ever thought about how Christmas is celebrated in other countries? What their Christmas dishes are?
The Spanish always eat well. It doesn’t matter whether you live in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Guadalajara or Villanueva de los Infantes. When it comes to the Christmas holidays, the tables will be full and the grapes ready to ring in the New Year.
In Spain, it’s common to eat turkey or chicken in December, either stuffed or roast.
When it comes to fish, cod is definitely king, no matter how it’s served.
And what about dessert? Turrones (a nougat-like confection) are a must and they come in a variety of types. Marzipan is also an essential Christmas food along with, of course, the famous roscón de reyes, a ring-shaped cake.
In Turkey, the 25th of December is not a big deal, but New Year’s Eve is another story. Whether it’s due to European influence or because it’s a good excuse to have a great time, the Turks decorate the streets with lights, the restaurants fill up, and if you’re there on holiday, there will be surely be a party in the hotel, especially if you’re in Istanbul.
And what about the food? The star dishes are the different types of mezze to suit every taste and turkey with Arab-style rice.
The Japanese have taken Western traditions and made them their own, sometimes changing them beyond recognition.
There are Christmas lights in the homes and the cities and they’ll be the most incredible ones you’ve ever seen.
You’ll eat Christmas cake and…KFC, yes, that Kentucky Fried Chicken. I’m not joking. The most famous Christmas food in Japan is KFC chicken!
Christmas holidays in Brazil are accompanied by bolhinos de bacalhau (cod balls), which look like croquettes.
The most popular main dish, as in many other countries, is stuffed turkey with fruit and nuts.
Moqueca brasileña (fish stew) is another popular dish and for dessert, rabanadas (Brazilian-style French toast).
The American-style Christmas is very well-known thanks to cinema and television. People take Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve very seriously. Three Kings Day doesn’t exist for them.
The star dish is stuffed turkey with vegetables, fruit, nuts and a delicious sauce to cover it: similar to Thanksgiving in fact.
When it comes to dessert, it’s all about cakes, especially apple ones.
Christmas food in Portugal can be summed up in just one word: cod, prepared in a wide variety of ways, as is typical in the country.
When it comes to desserts, fatias douradas (a Portuguese version of French toast) and bolo rei (a cake with crystallised and dried fruit) are the stars.
Once again, stuffed turkey is the most important dish, served with potatoes and Brussels sprouts.
As for desserts, they eat Christmas pudding, which is a cherry pudding.
The streets fill up with lights. Some homes even have 2 trees, also lit up. Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are both celebrated as a family.
It’s common to see restaurants full of people. But if eating at home, a delicious turkey with chestnut puree, a good roast beef, pheasant or rabbit are the dishes of choice.
The Dutch prepare large doughnuts covered with powdered sugar, known as Olliebollen. They’re the equivalent of the grapes in Spain (but you don’t have to eat one with each chime of the clock!)
Italy is similar to Spain in some ways; they love their food and dedicate a large part of their lives to eating well and Christmas is no exception.
New Year’s Eve is sacred and must be spent with family. Everyone gets together for the Christmas dinner, known as the “cenone di natale”
Fish is an essential part of this big dinner, generally in the form of a salad. There’s the antipasti (a variety of cold starters), vegetables, and of course, pasta.
Dessert is never skipped and the key dish is panettone, which originated in Milan.
Lentils are eaten on New Year’s Eve to ring in the New Year.
You’ll definitely see Mexican punch, a fruit infusion which may include alcohol, on the dinner table on Christmas Eve.
The most common food to eat for Christmas Eve dinner is turkey. They prepare it by stuffing it with ham, vegetables, fruit and spices.
You can also eat cod stuffed with vegetables.
Other typical Mexican Christmas foods are romeritos (sprigs of a wild plant), champurrado (a thick, chocolate-based drink) and atole de guayaba (a thick, fruit-based drink).