If you are thinking of traveling through Europe over the holidays, you are in for a treat. Many countries across Europe come alive during the holidays, each with their own unique traditions, especially in food. Learn about some of the best holiday meals, and explore Europe with AESU!
At first glance, an English Christmas dinner looks similar to Thanksgiving in America. There is turkey, potatoes, gravy, and even cranberry sauce. In addition, the dinner is served with seasonal produce like parsnips, brussel sprouts, and chestnuts. However an English Christmas dinner could also have Yorkshire pudding and pigs in a blanket, plus English Christmas pudding which is made of dried fruits, spices, and suet, with sherry and bread as a binder.
In Spain, Christmas dinner is enjoyed on Christmas Eve, called ‘Noche Buena,’ which means Good Night. Roast truffle-stuffed turkey or ham is served with salad, fried potatoes, and cheese and chorizo as an appetizer. However, the desserts are the real centerpiece. In Spain, there are numerous different holiday treats, including Rosca de Reyes, which is a king’s cake. It is a tradition to celebrate the three kings who brought gifts to baby Jesus in the Bible, and children eagerly expect gifts from these three kings similarly to Santa in America. In some traditions, the Rosca de Reyes cake has an uncooked bean baked into it, and whoever finds that bean in their piece of cake wins and gets to be king of the party.
Christmas dinner in Germany is traditionally centered around a Christmas goose, stuffed with apples, chestnuts, onions, and dried fruits. The goose is served family-style with bread dumplings called Semmelknödel and red cabbage. Some popular Christmas desserts include a fruit bread called stollen, mulled wine, and gingerbread treats.
In France, families enjoy an extended Christmas dinner known as Réveillon, or “waking,” which takes place across several courses. Some of the foods featured include seafood starters–like oysters and lobster–escargot, foie gras, roasted turkey or pheasant, and seasonal delights like truffles and chestnuts. It is a family affair, with everyone gathered around one big table. A traditional dessert is the Bûche de Noël, which we know as a yule log cake. No expense is spared, and it’s not unheard of to enjoy this dinner with champagne.
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