Christmas is coming, so let’s talk about food! All over the world there are customs and traditions focused on the most eagerly awaited day of the year. And what about coffee? Even at Christmas, Italians have no intention of going without an espresso and wherever you happen to be in the world, at work, in a hotel or at home, you will find Italian coffee machines, the best in the world!
Our culinary journey in search of foods for the festive season begins in Europe with a special focus on the finale of the feast – cakes and puddings! In Austria, a spicy bread called Früchtebrot is made in large quantities. In Germany too, in keeping with the best traditions of central Europe, cakes and sweets occupy pride of place, in particular Stollen, a cake made with various types of candied fruit. In England, whilst waiting for the Queen’s speech at three o’clock in the afternoon, everyone enjoys the classic Christmas Pudding; while milk, rice and almonds are the simple ingredients that form the basis of Ris à l’amande, the tasty rice pudding that is a traditional Danish Christmas speciality. France celebrates with the traditional Buche de Noel, a cake made in the form of a log covered in chocolate buttercream frosting, while nearby Spain has nougat and Polvorones, made with lemon, coconut and coffee. In Italy each region has its own culinary tradition, although the happy ending is always the same: drinking a toast with panettone or pandoro, followed, naturally, by a delicious espresso.
What about other parts of the world? In Argentina, apart from the exceptional heat, Christmas is celebrated in traditional fashion. On 24 December, the whole family gathers together and after some mouthwatering asado, the famous national dish of barbecued meat, the meal culminates in a toast with panettone and sparkling white wine. In Australia, 25 December falls in the middle of the summer holidays so many Christmas celebrations take place outdoors. The national festive dish is Christmas Pudding, which often contains a hidden golden nugget, a lucky charm for whoever who finds it. In the USA there are two special sweets: Christmas pudding with brandy sauce and mince pies, small cakes made of short crust pastry filled with mincemeat, which are supposed to be the traditional sweet of Father Christmas.
One festive season, but so many different traditions of puddings and sweets!