EDP readers talk about their Christmas dinner traditions
PUBLISHED: 16:36 23 November 2016 | UPDATED: 17:02 23 November 2016
It’s Christmas, it must be turkey. Or must it?
While many EDP readers always sit down to a Christmas Day roast turkey lunch, there’s a good number of families who steer well clear of the traditional big bird.
We’ve been eating turkey in the UK since Edward VII made eating turkey fashionable at Christmas, although it was a luxury until the 1950s when fridges became more common.
Around the world traditions vary from fish soup and carp to meat broth.
In Sweden the Christmas feast includes shellfish, cooked and raw fish and cheeses. In the Ukraine it’s a special meat broth eaten on Christmas Eve. Likewise, in Norway the main meal is on Christmas Eve, where typically those around the coast eat fish and inland it’s more likely to be special sausages, pork or lamb.
In Poland traditionalists like to serve a dozen dishes – several involving fish plus delicious Polish dumplings with various fillings – on Christmas Eve, each course representing a month of the year, and in Norfolk and Suffolk, many EDP readers bring their cultural traditions to the Christmas meal table.
Silvania Brown, a Brazilian from Thorpe St Andrew, says: “Our Christmas is a bit different from Europe. We celebrate it with the family, lovely wine, food and definitely lovely Brazilian music with lots of dancing. I celebrate it on the 25th in the evening with my family and friends. Presents is not the must important thing, but presence is. The Brazilian food is turkey rice with sultanas and green apple, farofa which is with made from mandioca [a root vegetable], chocolate Brazilian truffles and passionfruit mousse. This is followed by lots of laughter and love with the family and friends, which is what it’s all about.
“I find my ingredients in an Indian shop and a Portuguese shop called Lusa and in the north Norfolk markets.”
On Twitter reader Roger Blackwell said he eats turkey all year round so will have fish at Christmas.
It’s a Polish style Christmas Eve dinner for Doug Faulkner-Gawlinski, a 12-course meal starting with pickled herring before a beetroot soup (borsch) with pierogi or uszka (mushroom stuffed little dumplings), then a fish and rice course before lots of other little bits.
There’s vodka, Polish singing and sharing a wafer of bread at the start too, he adds.
Claudia Ciausu celebrates her Romanian Christmas on the 25th with a variety of dishes including drum, “a culinary delight” which includes meat from the pig’s head, feet, kidney, heart, toungue and ears. For six weeks before hand, Claudia refrains from consuming meat, milk, cheese or eggs only eating a vegan diet in preparation for the big day. She says she finds nearly everything she needs to make her traditional dishes in the supermarkets but there are a few ingredients she can only find in the Romanian shop on Magdalen Street, Norwich.
Lu Hales-Greer says: “I never thought my family was that odd until I mentioned it at work one day and people were horrified that we don’t do a roast dinner.”
Her family Christmas Day starts with breakfast of American style pancakes and fruit – usually with as much chocolate stuffed into them as possible. Lunch is skipped as everyone is too full from breakfast.
Dinner, is at normal dinnertime, says Lu.
“Not in the middle of the afternoon as most people seem to do on Christmas.”
The food is different every year.
“Myself, my husband, my mum and my dad all pick a country and then agree on one, then whoever’s turn it is to cook Christmas dinner makes something from that country.
“This year I’ve been challenged to do something from Malta. The only other rule is dinner mustn’t be something so complicated that you spend more than an hour total prepping and cooking it – the holidays are family time and none of us want to be stuck in the kitchen,” she says.
“The only snack we have in between meals is chocolates from the Christmas tree – the ones that look like baubles – as my mum’s rule was always that you couldn’t have them before Christmas Day, so eating every single one of them on the day became a tradition in itself,” she adds.
Other EDP readers like to ring the changes too.
At the Southgate’s house in south Norfolk there’s sometimes rib of beef or goose alongside the turkey for variation, there’s goose at the McAllister family lunch in south Norfolk too and the Donald family, just outside Norwich, have a full range of meats, with turkey, beef, pork and more, so everyone can have their favourite. It’s guinea fowl at Marie Larroque’s Christmas near Watton.
“They are actually big birds so easily feed four to six people and seem to be raised humanely and fed well,” says Mrs Larroque. Her French husband Clem always insists on a Buche de Noel (yule log) too.
“He says it’s not Christmas without one!” she adds.
What do you have on Christmas Day? Write to EDP Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE, email EDPletters@archant.co.uk