insideKENT Magazine insideKENT Issue 69 Dec 2017 - Page 97

FOOD+DRINK EASTERN EUROPE NORWAY They do things differently in Norway…at least, it seems rather differently when compared to the good old roast turkey, goose, or nice piece of beef. ‘Smalahove’ is a whole steamed sheep’s head, and for many Norwegians it’s the dish of the day. Ideally, you should eat the ears and eyes first (they’re the fattiest parts), and then the surrounding meaty bits. The brain is boiled separately. Not everyone likes smalahove, and if that’s the case then the alternative is pinnekjøtt, which is lamb’s ribs cooked on an open fire made of birch branches. Because that’s quite a lot of trouble to go to however, it isn’t quite as popular as it once was, and for the majority of households in Norway, the main feature of their Christmas dinner, which they eat on Christmas Eve, is ribbe, or roast pork belly. The smalahove, pinnekjøtt, or ribbe is served with boiled potatoes, prunes, pickled cabbage, lingonberry sauce and sausages. If you still have room, dessert is a dish called multekrem, which is cloudberries (a native Scandinavian fruit) mixed with cream and sugar. MEXICO Many countries in Eastern Europe hold a similar kind of Christmas feast. They enjoy it on Christmas Eve, since Christmas Day is busy with church services so there just isn’t time to create the spectacular 12 dish meal that Christmas calls for in countries such as Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania. The 12 dishes are meant to represent the 12 apostles, and superstition says that if you skip any of them, you will die within the year. While not entirely cheery, at least the food does sound tasty, so skipping a course isn’t going to be something you’d particularly want to do anyway. The food doesn’t include any meat, eggs or milk because of the rules of the Nativity Fast that the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Church practices, so instead you will find mushroom soup, cabbage rolls, herrings, pierogi (steamed dumplings with a variety of fillings), carp and poppy seed cake amongst others. As might be expected in a country such as Mexico, Christmas dinner is a spicy affair. The main meal happens on Christmas Eve, and usually consists of stews made from beef or fish with plenty of chilli thrown in. On the side you’ll find spicy tamales – a sort of pastry made of corn, which are stuffed with pork or beef and can be dipped into the stew. Because these little delicacies are fiddly and take a while to make, they tend to be saved for important occasions such as Christmas. And because they are cooked in large batches when they are created, they will be eaten long after Christmas itself is over...much like the leftover turkey that we eat for days in the UK. To finish, it’s a sweet fried fritter known as a buñuelo. 97