Europe’s traditional Christmas meals
Sharing a meal with family and friends is one of the nicest Christmas traditions of all. Kikkoman has compiled a collection of traditional Christmas dishes from all over Europe for you. Hopefully they’ll inspire you when you’re creating this year’s Christmas menu!
And here’s some good advice on how to achieve a very special flavour: our Kikkoman soy sauce gives all your Christmas dishes a special UMAMI kick – whether you’re cooking fish, meat, poultry, vegetables, soups or desserts. Just add few splashes for amazing flavour.
Traditional Christmas dishes in Austria differ from region to region. Some people serve carp, while others prefer a Christmas goose. Festive menus often include regional soups such as potato soup or “Wurstelsuppe” – a soup containing home-made sausages, noodles and vegetables. Cold dishes such as sliced roast beef, goose liver pate, smoked salmon, fish fillet or seafood and sides such as salads and dips are also part of the Christmas dining experience. Like the Swiss, the Austrians also enjoy a meat or cheese fondue at Christmas.
The Danish are real sticklers for tradition at Christmas. Over 90 percent of them serve roast duck with plum and apple stuffing or roast pork with crispy nibbles. Traditional side dishes are boiled potatoes, or little caramelised potatoes and red cabbage with savoury gravy. Dessert is usually rice-based with almonds and cherry sauce.
On 24 December the French traditionally eat a festive meal consisting of foie gras, oysters or other seafood as a starter, roasted capon with chestnuts as the main and a “Bûche de Noël” as dessert. A capon is a male fowl known for its very mild flavour. The Bûche de Noël dessert is a sponge roll filled with chocolate or fruit and made to look like a yule log. Check out the photo on the left.
A traditional Christmas dinner of roast duck or goose is served on the evening of 24 December in Germany. People in some regions also eat carp, trout or a simple potato salad with sausages. Raclette is another popular Christmas meal in Germany.
Roast turkey is the number one Christmas dish in the UK and it’s eaten by more than three quarters of the British. King Edward VII first introduced the tradition in the 19th century. Typical sides are roast potatoes and parsnips, carrots, sprouts and lots of gravy. The turkey generally contains stuffing and is served with cranberry or bread sauce. Pigs in blankets – little sausages rolled in crispy bacon – are another popular side dish. Any turkey leftovers are used as a sandwich filling, eaten with gherkins or used as an ingredient for curry on the next day.
A Mediterranean Christmas meal in Italy is an elegant affair on the evening of 24 December and usually consists of fish. On the next day northern Italians like to make a hearty fish-filled raviolo, while their southern counterparts tend to serve lamb. The Neapolitans are the exception to the rule because they often eat eel on Christmas Day.
In Poland there is always an extra place setting at the dining table in case an unexpected guest calls in. Typical dishes are floured carp, herrings in oil or the traditional cabbage stew “bigos”, flavoured with dried mushrooms, butter and cream. Many families also eat beetroot soup (Polish name: borschtsch) with little mushroom dumplings or sauerkraut and mushroom dumplings (pierogi) and a poppy seed cake for dessert on Christmas Eve.
One traditional Christmas and New Year dish in Russia is the Olivier salad. It contains potatoes, gherkins, peas, eggs, carrots and boiled beef, chicken or minced meat – all mixed together with a generous helping of mayonnaise. Another popular festive offering is herring “in a fur coat” – a layer salad of pickled herring covered with boiled potatoes, carrots or beetroot. The beetroot gives the salad its typical purple colour. Families in many regions also eat “kholodets” – pork in aspic – at Christmas.
Although there are many food traditions in Spain, stuffed turkey is the most popular Christmas offering. In the past the turkeys were sold live at markets and lived with the families that bought them until Christmas day, when they were cooked as Christmas dinner. Turrón, a dessert made of eggs, almonds, honey and sugar and tastes like nougat is an absolute must at a traditional Spanish festive meal.
There is no traditional Christmas meal in Switzerland. In the past, the Christmas period was divided into the fast of Advent and the Christmas celebration. Many meat dishes were eaten, which vary from region to region. “Fondue Chinoise“ or Chinese fondue is one of the most popular Christmas meals.