Christmas culinary traditions from around the world

Turkey. Brussels sprouts. Mince pies. This is the basic drill when it comes to festive feasting in the UK Ė the images, tastes and smells so synonymous with Christmas thatís itís hard to believe that this fodder isnít the norm in many countries the world over.

From cherry sauce to KFC and whale blubber, we take a slice of whatís on the table all over the world at Christmas.

Belgium

Expect to consume plenty of Speculoos in Belgium. These are sugary cinnamon biscuits that are eaten year round but traditionally connected with St Nicholas Day when children would leave carrots in their shoes by the chimney for St Nickís horse and in the morning Specaloos would, be in their place.

Denmark

If the idea of cold rice pudding is less than appealing you probably wouldnít fare well at a Danish Christmas meal, where risalamande will almost certainly feature.
The pudding includes whipped cream, chopped almonds and a cherry sauce and often a whole almond is added and whoever finds it in their helping gets Mandelgave or almond present, which is traditionally a little marzipan pig!


Puerto Rico

Tembleque is essentially Puerto Ricoís answer to eggnog made with condensed milk, coconut milk and plenty of rum.


Greece

Greek tradition dictates that on 24th December,Christís Bread - is made. This is a sweetened bread containing raisins, nuts and cloves among other flavoursome spices. The bread is decorated with a cross and a whole walnut, and traditionally becomes the centrepiece for the following dayís main meal.


France

BŻche de NoŽl Ė which translates to Yule Log is a much-loved Christmas confection in France. The original Yule log was a huge, dense piece of wood which was burned to mark the winter solstice at the heart of a home. The edible version is not an easy thing to master Ė but Nigella can talk you through it here.

Greenland

In a tradition females can certainly get on board with, men serve the women throughout the Christmas meal in Greenland. But the meal is likely to be alien to anyone who hasnít lived in north Scandinavia Ė given that is comprised in part of mattak which are pieces of whale skin complete with blubber. Kiviak is also served; this is essentially the flesh of auks which has been left to decompose inside a whole sealskin for a number of months.


Italy

Forget turkey, goose or beef, for Italians Christmas feasting is all about fish. The Festa dei Sette Pescióthatís Feast of the Seven Fishes for anyone not fluent in Italian has been something of a tradition for Christmas Eve dinners among Italian-American families for over 100 years. As the name suggests the dinner consists of a seven-course menu featuring a range of seafood dishes including marinated anchovies and seafood pasta.
The final course is reserved for classic Italian desserts. Tiramisu, anyone?

Philippines

If you think weíre bonkers in the UK for putting up festive decorations as soon as Halloween is over, be thankful that you donít live in the Philippines where Christmas celebrations are known to begin as early as September. But Christmas Eve is the traditional night for the Noche Buena feast Ė which usually features a spit-roasted sucking pig. Side dishes include pasta and salad Ė and even a ball of cheese!

Japan

Millions, actual millions, of people in Japan tuck into a big bucket of KFCís fried chicken on 25th December. This has been the case since following a phenomenally successful marketing campaign by the American company in the 1970s. Who knew?


Mexico

As with many Hispanic countries, Christmas isn't celebrated officially until January 6th - the day of The Three Kings. During this day, families will feast on Twelfth Night cake which has a figure of the Baby Jesus is hidden inside. The lucky finder of the Jesus figure becomes the 'Godparent' of Jesus for the next 12 months.

Which foodie traditions have we missed?

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