insideKENT Magazine insideKENT Issue 69 Dec 2017 - Page 98

FOOD+DRINK Christmas Feasts AROUND THE WORLD cont. JAPAN Although not technically a Christian country, Japan is known for its consumerism, and Christmas is no different. Turkey was a tricky thing to find back in the 1970s, so expats who were keen to have as traditional a Christmas as they could even if they were away from home had to improvise. If turkey wasn’t on the menu, then chicken would have to do. And why slave for hours over a hot stove when Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) was open on Christmas Day, selling a ‘bargain bucket’ that could easily feed an entire family? KFC noticed the trend and created the Christmas Chicken Bucket in 1974. The trend has never diminished, and many Japanese families – natives as well as expats – enjoy some finger lickin’ chicken with a glass of champagne at lunchtime on 25th December. Afterwards, there is a tendency towards cake. SWEDEN In Sweden, the Christmas feast is called the ‘julbord’ or ‘Christmas table’. And it is just that – a table overladen with delicious bits and pieces for everyone to tuck into. Christmas dinner is not such a formal affair in Sweden as elsewhere in the world, and guests aren’t required to sit around the table if they prefer not to. Grab a plate, fill it with boiled ham, ‘dopp i grytan’ (literally translated as ‘dipping in the kettle’, hunks of bread are dipped in the gravy made from the ham centrepiece), boiled whitefish, syrup covered cabbage and a variety of smoked and cured meats. To drink, it’s the traditional glögg, which is an excellent word for mulled wine. Dessert is very much a sugary, spicy kind of dish. It’s all about baked goods, and there are a lot of them, which will be cooking slowly from early on Christmas Eve right through the night, enveloping each home in a warming cinnamon and nutmeg fragrance – the smell of Christmas. The favourites in Sweden are fruktkaka – a light fruit cake; mandelmusslor – gooseberry jam topped with whipped cream in a thin almond pastry shell; kokosbollar – chocolate truffles rolled in oats and coconut; and risgrynsgrot – a very thick, very rich, very creamy rice pudding. ITALY Italy, as with many mainly Catholic countries, celebrates its Christmas feast on Christmas Eve, leaving Christmas Day free to attend mass. The Italian meal has its own name – The Feast of the Seven Fishes – and it’s huge. Traditionally seven courses (hence the name), in many households this can swell to 12 or more, as every member of the family wants to cook their own dish and add their own personality to proceedings. The basis of the meal is that there must be at least seven different types of fish, and those fish must be cooked in entirely different ways. From boiling and roasting to poaching and eating raw with a homemade salsa, there are no hard and fast rules for what needs to be done. Favourite fish across the country, and ones that are often included, are cod and calamari. Everything else is open to interpretation. The good news is these seven or so dishes aren’t eaten all at once – the meal is spread out over the entire afternoon and evening, making it a lot easier to digest! 98