Christmas is a time to reunite the family, but also a synonym of great meals and special traditions. Turkey surely has a distinct place throughout the world, mainly because of North-American influence. And the candies are a sweet temptation for those who can resist during an entire year. Well, who can say no to a Christmas pudding, corn-bread, egg lamprey and milk pudding?
In Portugal, codfish is still the main traditional dish, especially when boiled and with cabbages. In the northern part of the country, it's properly called "bacalhau da Consoada", but it can also be prepared as a croquette. Birds' fricassee and octopus are also eaten in this region with the codfish at the December 24 supper, before midnight and the arrival of Santa Claus.
Going to the south, there are other kinds of meat on the table. At Alentejo the fried porch, despite sharing attentions with the codfish, is on the spotlights. At Ribatejo the preference lies upon the turkey. However, there's always a special feeling about codfish going on.
Nevertheless, the candies take the Portuguese people's breath away. There are uncountable desserts, from north to south, and the only "demand" is they have to be fried and sweetest as they can be, often sugar-and-cinnamon floured or sprinkled with honey. Common flounder, nougat, French toasts, crullers, rice pudding and chatelaine corn-bread are some of many examples.
In Madeira Islands and Azores there are different traditions. The marinated pork, in wine and garlic, is the typical dish of Madeira's supper. As a dessert, it's served the famous honey cake and the cake family. But in Azores the Christmas cake is a preference with a homemade tangerine brandy.
But when the subject is typical Portuguese desserts, there's nothing like King cake. Obligatory item on every table, this typical cake stuffed with dried fruits and ornamented with crystallized fruits. There's a "female" variation, the Queen cake, which doesn't have the crystallized fruits.
In Brazil, the cooking traditions are related to the several cultures which are present at the history of this country. Despite varying from region to region, the meals are usually composed by turkey, codfish croquette, vegetables, fruit dishes -- quite heavy for a Summer time. The influences go from Portuguese food to German, Italian and Spanish habits adapted to Brazilian conditions.
The general tendency makes the turkey smell invade the houses, even if sometimes the option is porch's ham at Brazilian's Christmas table. Garnishing it all, there are farofa, bacon, potatoes and rice. But the traditional barbecue can be an option. In the end, desserts fulfill the tables. Milk pudding is a typical national delicacy, although it may be garnished by panettone -- which came from Italian influences -- or passion-fruit mousse. And the stollen presence, the Germany typical cake, isn't uncommon. Portuguese and Brazilian people share the same costumes when the subject is beverage. Wine, champagne, beers and juice are constant presences on the table.
Throughout the world, Christmas tables can vary. There's only one thing in common: the will for a plenty meal as a place where we can forget the quotidian difficulties for a while.
In Czech Republic, for instance, fishes are constantly on the spotlight. Fried or in broth, carps are elected here for Christmas, garnished by potatoes salad and many kinds of sausages. A glass of hot honey brandy or a glass of hot wine is a perfect item to become the cold winter nights warmer. As a dessert, there are sweet Christmas breads, vanilla roll-out cookies or honey cakes, which can make everyone happy.
In traditional Italia, it's still served La Vigilia Napoletana in south regions during Christmas' eve supper. It means a meal with seven kinds of fish (or nine or even eleven, depending on the cities). The typical dishes of Christmas time include codfish, eel and fish salad. But besides the round of fish dishes, turkey or pasta can be served. Candies are also n important part of Christmas' supper. Fried items, honey and marzipan are tencendies that turn into struffoli, cenci, dried figs, caramel almonds and another uncountable delights on the table.
In Poland, it's served a twelve-dishes meal without meat during Christmas' eve, as a symbol of the twelve apostles. Beet soup, carp or poppy seeded cake are some of the typical delicacy.
The movies made in USA are a constant memory of what Christmas is there. But we can remember that roasted turkey is the national dish garnished with potatoes and vegetables. However, there are variations that can be: replacing turkey with quite different regional habits, like oysters in Virginia. As a dessert, Christmas pudding, pumpkin, apple or sweet potato pie, Yule logs, biscuits or marzipan. And, as a beverage, the famous eggnog, an alcohol drink made with milk. And there's not many differences in comparison with the British table.
Of course, each family has a special way of making a typical Christmas, adapting meals from various origins. The little differences turn this into a magic time. And, after all, who eats decide the meal... but leaving some little cakes to Santa Claus is obligatory.
Image's source: Wiki Commons.