Woodfin – Christmas dinners and desserts are different around the world.
While we’re eating turkey, ham and drinking eggnog, our global neighbors are savoring their own favorite holiday foods.
Read on for a global culinary trip to see who’s eating barbecue and snacking on cherries; which country’s residents are nibbling on duck and dumplings; and who is feasting on roasted pig and leche flan.
It’s summer in Australia in December, so cooking a turkey, ham or another roasted meat is not desirable. When Australians eat ham or turkey during the holiday, it’s served cold.
Down under, the Christmas menu is often a fish feast of oysters and prawns. Barbecue is also a Christmas staple, with holiday hosts grilling steak and lamb skewers for their guests. Fresh fruits are popular holiday foods as well, especially cherries, which are in season at Christmastime in the country.
Aussies celebrate the holiday with a sweet, light dessert called pavlova, which features a meringue base, whipped cream and fresh fruit.
The Christmas season in the Philippines lasts for months, with celebrations starting in September and running until December.
According to TheKitchn, Filipinos enjoy lechon, a roasted pig, at Christmas. They also serve sweet spaghetti with pieces of hot dog, as well as pancit Malabon, a noodle dish with annatto seeds, eggs, shrimp and pork rind.
For dessert, leche flan, a steamed custard topped with a syrupy caramel, is on the menu. The dish features egg yolks, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk.
According to GermanFoods.org, hearty meats like duck, goose, rabbit or a roast are served in Germany for Christmas dinner. Side dishes include potato dumplings, apple and sausage stuffing and red cabbage.
The most popular dessert is stollen, a pastry filled with nuts and fruit. It features tapered ends and a ridge down the center, symbolizing the baby Jesus in swaddling clothes.
Other German holiday sweets include gingerbread, which is called Lebkuchen, and jam-filled cookies known as either Kaiser-Platzchen or Emperor’s cookies.
Christmas in Serbia is celebrated with fasting, followed by feasting.
“In most Orthodox countries, Christmas Eve is celebrated by fasting, which means eating nothing but bread during the day and fish in the evening,” says travel writer and co-founder of DiveIn.com Torben Lonne, who spent a Christmas in Serbia a few years ago.
He says the fish, one of the earliest symbols of Christianity, can be fried or made into a stew.
“During Christmas day, lunch is usually rich in abundance, luscious and elaborate food,” says Lonne, noting many Serbians dine on special meat for the holiday, such as duck, turkey or pork.
TheSpruceEats.com reports that Serbians have a Christmas ritual of breaking bread, known as cesnica, which means “to share.”
The bread, which has a silver coin baked inside — bringing luck to the one who finds it — is eaten at a communal table. As part of the ritual, the bread is rotated three times counterclockwise before each guest breaks a piece. Often the host breaks a piece for every guest, as well as one extra piece for the polozajnik, or the first guest.
Spanish Christmas celebrations start on Christmas Eve with La Noche Buena, which means “The Good Night.” The menu includes appetizers, known as tapas, including dishes like ham croquettes, Spanish garlic shrimp, fried squid and more.
For the main course, Spaniards serve paella, roasted lamb and patatas bravas, which are crispy fried potatoes. They toast the holiday with a sparkling wine known as cava. For dessert, they nibble on shortbread cookies called polvorones and sip espresso.
Recipes for these global dishes are easy to find online, and you can buy many of these ingredients or fully prepared foods at a local international grocery store.