If you grew up in the United States, you probably eat a typically American Christmas. A roast turkey or roast ham, maybe a roast beef, accompanied by a variety of side dishes and followed up by dessert. But did you know that different cultures around the world celebrate Christmas with very different meals? Take some inspiration from these international Christmas traditions.
1. France – Foie Gras and Oysters
Typical dinners in France open with an array of delicious appetizers. Foie gras is one of these. It’s been demonized in the United States, but organic producers have spoken out against this propaganda. Foie gras is usually served with thin slices of brioche bread and some sort of sweet accompaniment, like onion jam. Oysters are served raw alongside mignonette sauce, with bread and lots of fresh butter.
2. Italy – the Feast of the 7 Fishes
According to Catholic tradition, Christmas Eve is a time of fast, meaning that no meat is eaten. But that doesn’t stop the Italians from making the 24th into a feast! 7 different fish and shellfish preparations are served, including salt cod, known as baccala, stuffed lobster or fish soup — zuppa di pesce. The number 7 is representative of the 7 sacraments of the Catholic tradition. You can taste the 7 fishes meal in several restaurants in New York.
3. Czech Republic – Fried Carp and Potato Salad
Fish is also a theme in Czech Christmas dinners. Fried carp is combined with potato salad. Seasoned with vinegar, this salad is a delicious savory and sour concoction.
4. Brazil – Couve a Mineira
We all love kale… especially the Brazilians! Couve a mineira is a combination of either kale or collard greens and garlic. The very garlicky dish is perfect for your Christmas table, alongside any other dish!
5. Australia – Pavlova
Australian Christmas takes place when the weather is warm. Grilling is a traditional way to celebrate the holiday, with shrimp, steaks and chicken grilled on the barbecue. To top it all off, meringue, cream and fruit come together in a delicious pavlova for dessert.
6. England – Christmas Pudding with Hard Sauce
Traditional Christmas pudding is a delicious concoction from England. Our recipe will help you bring this home to your own kitchen.
7. Provence – 13 Desserts
In Provence, 13 desserts are served. Each of the desserts is representative of a different idea or theme. The four beggars represent the four different monastic disorders: raisins for the Dominicans, walnuts or hazelnuts for the Augustines, dried figs for the Franciscans, almonds for the Carmelites. Dates represent the food of the region where Christ was born. Dark and white nougat represent good and evil. Fresh fruits like apples, pears, oranges, melon, grapes and tangerines feature on the table as well, as do a selection of different local sweets: calissons d’Aix, casse-dents d’Allauch, bugnes, oreillettes, pain d’épices are just some of many options.