December 21, 2017 3:28 pm
Christmas is one of the best times of the year for people who love big meals and good food. Every country has their own traditions when it comes to Christmas dinner and while many share similarities, they can also differ in lots of ways. Examples of these differences include the time/day when they meal is eaten, the number of courses and of course the food.
In last week’s post, we explored the festive fare on offer in a number of European countries such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom. As a follow-up to last week’s article, we have decided to serve you up a selection of traditional yuletide delights enjoyed in other parts of Europe. So get ready to feast your eyes on these traditional Christmas treats!
Embodying the Christmas spirit across the whole peninsula, Panettone arises from the extensive Italian culinary tradition as the most popular Christmas cake and usually brings a close to the seemingly never-ending Italian Christmas dinner. Originally from Milan, it is made of a sweet bread loaf and candied fruit such as raisins, oranges and lemons. Its preparation is very time-consuming and can last for several days, although in supermarkets you can find many good varieties. But do not think that Panettone imposes itself without competition as the symbol of the Italian Christmas. Pandoro, in fact, stands as a fierce rival and its supporters do not hesitate to start fights at the end of the Christmas dinner to challenge the Panettone superiority. Pandoro is typically from Verona and the main difference from Panettone is the absence of candied fruit. It is usually eaten with powdered sugar and types of cream such as eggnog and chocolate in order to compensate for its dry texture.
Panettone. Image credits: chiarapassion.com
Malta was a British colony for over 100 years, and for this reason, the British influence can be felt in every aspect of Maltese life, be it language, culture, traditions and undoubtedly cuisine.
The case for Maltese festive culinary traditions is no different. In fact, when it comes to Christmas, the traditional dinner is eaten in the afternoon and is very similar to the British version, with turkey, roast potatoes, vegetables and gravy. This day can be considered a food fest, as you know when you’re about to start eating, and it is guaranteed that you won’t stop till the end of the day.
Despite the British influence, there are several dishes the Maltese include in their day. As a dessert, amongst the vast array of sweets, the Maltese prepare ‘Honey Rings’, which are basically pastry rings filled with a treacle, honey and spices.
After midnight mass, which most Maltese still attend en masse, a hot beverage is served similar to cocoa, with the addition of several spices such as cloves and cinnamon, and orange and tangerine peel, and the most important ingredient would be chestnuts, as the name implies ‘imbuljuta tal-qastan.’
In Belgium a traditional Christmas dessert is Cougnou, also known as bread of Jesus: it consists of a sweet bread with raisins shaped as a baby Jesus. Usually given to children on Christmas Day, its origins seem to be in ancient Hainaut, a province of Belgium in the Walloon region, but it is now spread throughout the southern Low Countries. It is usually decorated in different ways across the provinces.
Another traditional sweet treat are the Bouquettes liégeoises, or boûkètes, according to the spelling used in Liège; this type of Belgian treat, just like the Cougnou, is often embellished with raisins. Boûkètes may be eaten hot or cold, garnished with a local brown sugar known as cassonade or with sirop de Liège.
Image credits: lacuisinedechristine.com
If you love sugar and get to spend the Holiday season in Spain, you will not be disappointed. One of the traditional desserts is the Turrón de Navidad, whose name comes from torrat, a term that means a mix of honey and dried fruits and nuts cooked directly on the fire to give the mass consistency; Turrón de Navidad has become the classic Spanish treat of the holidays. It is easily obtained from the union of cooked honey, nuts, generally almonds and egg whites.
There are two different versions of this dessert, the Turrón de Jijona and the Turrón de Alicante. There are historical references dating the Turrón de Jijona back to 1531; the main difference between the two is that while Jijona is soft, the nougat from Alicante is hard.
In Slovenia, the big meal takes place on Christmas’ Eve. A dish that is usually associated with Christmas time in Slovenia is potica: this is the equivalent of a nut roll which is made from spreading nut paste on thin pastry before adding a sweetener like honey and rolling the pastry and its contents up.
Grilled turkey is also a popular main course; food can be served with mulled wine and eggnog.
In Slovakia, the main Christmas dinner is enjoyed on Christmas eve. The menu typically includes potato salad with mayonnaise, pickles and breaded fish or meat. It is also common to serve sauerkraut soup with sausages and smoked pork.
Romanians enjoy an extensive feast at Christmas time. A typical Romanian Christmas meal has so many dishes that it’s almost impossible to cover in a limited space such as this. For starters, Salata de boeuf, meatballs, stuffed eggs and homemade sausages are often served. Pork steak with beer is a common main dish as well as cabbage rolls, aspic and ciorba de perisoare (sour soup with meatballs). And for dessert, Romanians like to eat cozonac which is a sweet bread that can contain nuts, chocolate or anything sweet.
We hope you enjoyed this article. All of us here at TermCoord would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
We’d also like to take this opportunity to express gratitude to the Trainees at the European Parliament whose contributions helped us to put this article together. A big thank you to Anaïs Gilkin, Maria del Rocío García Perea, and Simina Tulbure.
- 196flavors, available here [accessed on 18/12/17]
- tisjir.com, available here [accessed on 18/12/17]
- WhyChristmas.com, available here [accessed on 20/12/17]
- OldCultureMalta, available here [accessed on 20/12/17]
- Citylifemadrid, available here [accessed on 20/12/17]
- Spanish Food, available here [accessed on 20/12/17]
- Slovenia.si, available here [accessed on 20/12/17]
Carolina Quaranta – Schuman Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament. Master Graduate in Public and Political Communication in the University of Torino, Italy; communication specialist and journalist.
Liam Kennedy – Schuman Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament. Graduate of Journalism with a Language (French) at Dublin Institute of Technology. Completed a Masters in Translation Studies at University College Cork.
Veronica Lynn Mizzi – Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg). Graduate in the Maltese Language and Communication, and Master’s graduate in Translation and Terminology Studies from the University of Malta. Former journalist
Alberto Babolin – Schuman trainee at the European Parliament (Luxembourg). Graduate in Environmental and Land Planning Engineering at the University of Padova, Italy, and Master’s graduate in Environmental Assessment and Management in the University of East Anglia, UK.
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