One of the most important religious events in the world, Christmas is celebrated in several countries and cultures with rituals featuring lights, presents and acts of kindness. For many of us the happiness brought by Christmas is linked to food and drinks, elements that vary significantly in different places. With a list spanning the five continents, Pequod suggests a number of dishes that you can serve and enjoy for an international dinner that honours traditions and impresses grandmothers. We present you with the most delicious Christmas recipes to be found around the world, starting with my favourite country, whose wonderful tastes can’t possibly leave you unsatisfied.
1. Romania and “the slaughter of the pig”
Romanian Christmas traditions vary from region to region, but one is celebrated in the whole country: today (20 December) is St. Ignatius, when the Romanians sacrifice the animals whose meat will be the ingredient of one of the main dishes eaten during the 12-day holiday. According to traditional belief, the pig-slaughtering tradition that characterises the day of St. Ignatius, popularly named Ignat, symbolises the sacrifice of the deity who dies and is resurrected. The European Union decided to allow Romania to slaughter the animals using a knife rather than the standard pain-free procedures required by EU regulations.
2. India: Allahabadi cake for Christmas!
As most of you probably know, Christmas is not a major religious celebration in India but rather a small and quiet recurrence celebrated by the Christian community of the country (about 2,3% of the total population) originally from India’s smallest state, Goa. Here, the traditional Christmas tree has also been adapted to the place: a banana or mango tree is used to decorate homes!
The Indian Christmas menu includes several sweets and a wide range of fruits, such as dodol: a toffee based sweet with coconut and cashew. Cakes are very popular, in particular Allahabadi cake, a traditional rum fruitcake that takes its name from the city of Allahabadi, and which is stuffed with jam, nuts and the fabulous ginger… a sort of Asian variant of the British Christmas cake.
3. Merry Christmas in Hong Kong
Difficult to believe, but Hong Kong has one of the most lively Christmas celebrations in the world, featuring a two-day public holiday, spectacles by the Hong Kong Ballet and a WinterFest, which includes a variety of special events, promotions and light and laser shows. Hong Kong has around 63 Michelin-starred restaurants that offer special Christmas dinners from 22nd December until Christmas day. The main recipes are roasted turkey and chicken, whereas the dessert is usually gingerbread.
4. Mexico, between tamales and pozole
The preparation of tamales is a proper ritual that keeps Mexican women busy for a whole day: tamales are stuffed rolls of corn flour covered by a leaf of corn. Usually meat, cheese or beans with the traditional spicy sauce and guacamole stuff them. Mexicans also take a lot of time to prepare pozole, the Christmas soup that possess all the traditional ingredients of Mexican cousin: corn, tomato jitomate – or chilli peppers, onions and, of course, meat. When you finish cooking the soup, you should serve the dish with lettuce and fresh onion.
As for traditional drinks, what cold be better than a little shot of tequila? For those who are not keen on alcohol – or would like a break from it – the Champurrado, a sort of Mexican hot chocolate, offers a good alternative: it is usually drunk while eating the tamales!
5. Crazy about Christmas: welcome in the UK!
Britons possess a particular and deep fondness for Christmas! Already in the middle of October, the largest cities of the country start to beautify their buildings and squares with Christmas trees, lights and music, while the restaurants ask their customers to book Christmas dinner well in advance.
In the UK families celebrate the event together, opening presents and enjoying the traditional meal, usually eaten at lunchtime or in the early afternoon on Christmas Day. It normally consists of roast turkey and vegetables with ‘all the trimmings’ which means vegetables like carrots and peas, various stuffing and sometimes bacon and sausages, often served with cranberry sauce and bread sauce. As for dessert, Christmas cake is the most popular, but Christmas Pudding is also very appreciated!