Christmas Food around the Globe (Part 1)

A belated Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my dear readers. As the calendar dates change and a new year awaits us, I wrap up 2019 with a fantabulous display of Christmas around the globe. Sent as always, by friends and well wishers. I can just imagine the zeal and energy put behind collecting these images as my friends weaved their way through the throng of family gathered around the Christmas table waiting to just dig in… I so wish them all a 2020 full of pleasant meals and happy memories 🙂

France:

Joyeaux Noel, Pere Noel, the Advent calender

Ki J. Min is from Seoul, based in Accra, Ghana but went to Fontainebleau, France to enjoy Christmas with her partner Remi. I was forwarded her pictures by another friend Sumaiya, who will feature in the next blog but for now, lets just say one of my most ardent cheerleaders on all my food escapades! 🙂 Now the french have a few traditions for Christmas, including the Christmas eve meal called the Le RĂ©veillon (awakening) and placing the children’s’ shoes infront of the fire place so Santa Claus (Pere Noel) can stuff them with presents.

Below are images shared by Ki with explanations in her words, for Christmas Around the Globe.

Smoked salmon, fresh oyster with lemon, and foie gras (my favorite). Salmon was a gift of home made smoked salmon. We ate foie gras with fig jam on toast.
Main dish was roasted neutered rooster (capon) with some mashed potato with egg yolk & some nutmeg, and mushrooms collected by Remi’s father from the forest – called cèpe, topped with gravy sauce to coat all 3 delicious roasts!
Pâté en croûte (pork with an outer layer of crust) another appetiser
Brie de meaux amongst the assortment of french cheeses
Cake roll – traditional style with butter cream. This was from a particular bakery that Remi’s grandma preferred as one of the last remaining ones that still sells authentic, traditional cake rolls.

Australia:

  • Summer Christmas; Santa chilling by the beach and barbecues

Australia Christmas images can be a bit confusing for many of us as they depict a bright, blazing hot day and they mostly have lunches instead of Xmas dinners. I was forwarded these pictures by a friend Faruq, for Christmas Around the Globe, based in Tasmania. His friends who took these images, Anna Mack and Howie Huang, explained that although there is a lot of ham and turkey (entire legs of ham/turkey) and fruit pudding/fruit cake, alot of Aussie Xmas usually consists of barbecues, lots of beer and summery food. My wish for a mouth watering image of the pavlova remains alas, a wish….. but LOOk at that glorious lobster! Australian Xmas is huge on its seafood especially prawns.

Chilled beer and a glorious lobster with some salads in the background set the tone for an Aussie affair 🙂
This plate just spells summer and with the blazing heats going around Australia at this point, I am sure this was exactly what the doctor had ordered! 🙂

US

  • Eggnogs; Gingerbread houses and Tamales

I also targeted friends living with big families for Christmas Around the Globe, for the sole purpose of getting great images and they didn’t disappoint me… A Bangladeshi married to an American, Maheen Tarver is currently raising 2 tiny dragons (her 2 toddlers cause enough wreckage as a pet dragon would possibly do…) and her mother-in-law organised a dinner with a Pinata theme, but the traditional Gingerbread house also featured.

The full monty of a Taco bar with refries beans, crunchy tortilla shells, shredded chicken, sour cream, cheese, corn and lettuce
A gingerbread house stands with the ginger bread man languishing outside, just waiting for Christmas… 🙂 I love the sugared jelly beans on top!
The Xmas Pinata for the kids, one of which looks deeply engrossed in collecting everyone’s share of sweets…! 🙂

Sri Lanka

  • Dutch cakes; a mashup of international traditions

Christmas in the tropical country of Sri Lanka also arrives with no change in weather which is probably why locals love following foreign traditions to give themselves a more Christmasy feel. Influenced by the Portuguese and Dutch colonials, rich cake and Bruedher, are some of the popular dishes this season. Christmas is called Naththala and Santa Claus is called Naththal Seeya. I used Shalini Siriwardene’s images for Christmas Around the Globe, of her internationally inspired spread.

Vegetable au-gratin, mashed potatoes, ham with green beans, coleslaw, pan fried chicken drumsticks, pasta with spinach and cream, garlic bread

Italy:

  • Presepe or nativity scenes; Babbo Natale or Father Christmas; La Befana (the good witch) delivering gifts

Last but not the least, Barbara Morda, a fellow heritage buff from Italy, sent me these stupendous images of her Christmas meal. An archaeologist and a doctorate in Aegean Prehistory, Barbara is coming up with her own website called Heritage Call, which she plans to weave with her pre-existing interest in Anthropological/Cultural Heritage issues. Watch out for this site but for now, she sent me the most organised file of images with complete descriptions of each dish! Barbara hails from the South of Italy, near the Strait of Messina, from Reggio-Calabria (or the toe of Italy’s boot) Its unofficial symbol is the horn-shaped red chili pepper. Not only does it add a spicy kick to any dish, it also wards off malocchio (the evil eye). Her images thus represent an authentic Calabrian spread! Traditionally, the inhabitants of the Italian city of Reggio Calabria and neighbouring villages, usually prepare and consume the so called crispelle during the Christmas festivities -salty doughnuts stuffed with anchovies in oil. The sweet variation exists with just a dusting of sugar after being fried. Wines usually are locals, (i.e. the famous Cirò wine) and for the appetizer, a sparkling wine or spumante (Martini).

Appetisers: Crispelles, an aged cheese like Parmesan is preferred and Calabria’s famous salami

Usually for the Christmas eve, fish and pasta are preferred with a sauce made of fish, due to their presence close to the Strait of Messina.

Lasagne, roast beef and a side of simple boiled chards to balance it out.
Stuffed cuttlefish: consists of breadcrumbs previously cooked in olive oil, garlic anchovies in oil and then mixed with an egg, parmesan, capers, white wine, salt and pepper and a simple fennel salad.  

Petrali are a sort of crescent-shaped, stuffed biscuits. This basic short crust pastry is stuffed with softened, dried and minced figs, which are previously mixed with almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts (all three are toasted and minced), raisins, sugar, coffee, candied fruits, honey, cocoa powder. This stuffing is finally aromatised by cloves, cinnamon, minced rind of oranges!!! Petrali is decorated three ways: the first one is covered with chocolate and sugar balls (diavolini) as a topping. The second happens before baking, covering the surfaces with beaten egg yolks, again topped with diavolini. The third process covers their surface, after baking, with sugar glaze which gives the typical white appearance of the petrali with diavolini.

All Italians also consume the panettone, a yeast-leavened bread, usually made with raisins, candied fruit peels, almonds and brandy. The Petrali and dried fruits dish next to it.

The typical Calabrian torrone is also consumed; it is a nougat candy typically studded with toasted pistachios and almonds. Torrone can be white (torrone all’ostia) or black (chocolate).
 
Seasonal Oranges, Clementines, dried figs, walnuts, hazelnuts, torrone and petrali.

Some of these images were sent via old friends who frankly tolerate my shenanigans around food but the new ones also, completely matched my passion for food. This happy union of like minded foodies was the ultimate way for me to end 2019. I would once again like to warmly thank Ki and Remi’s family (via Sumaiya) for the French images; Anna and Howie (via Faruq) for the Australian spread; Shalini (via Shamir) for a sprinkling of Sri Lankan and lastly, someone who I think will soon become an active collaborator, Barbara, from Italy and her heart warming efforts at making my blog come alive! Happy Holidays to you all and the may the year end peacefully!