Fun Facts: Holiday Food Around the World
Food, glorious food! One of the best things about Christmas and the winter holidays is the amazing array of traditional holiday food. All around the world, different countries have special foods and meals that are enjoyed during the festive period.
We’ve been doing some research (and getting very hungry) about the tasty treats prepared across the globe in the coming weeks. Here is a list of a few of our favorites. You may know some of them already, but you will definitely want to try them all!
The UK and the US
Traditional Christmas dinners in the Britain and America are very similar, with roast turkey, ham, or goose usually the centerpiece. The meal is completed with stuffing, vegetables, pigs in blankets (sausages wrapped in bacon – yum!), gravy, cranberry sauce, and Brussels sprouts. Did you know that although Brussels sprouts often divide opinion, they are actually very good for you? They are said to contain chemicals that help DNA repair and even block cancer cells.
Germany is famous for its love of good food and drink, and the holiday season is no different! Stollen is a fruit cake made with dried fruit and marzipan and is – trust me – delicious. Stollen has an interesting history: It was first made in the 15th century, when butter was rationed during Advent. Saxon bakers wrote to Pope Innocent VIII, who eventually granted them permission to use butter. This allowed them to bake a more tasty version of Stollen, the one that we know today.
It isn't just food that takes center stage: drink is important as well. Mulled wine is popular across all of Europe, and is originally a Roman invention. Made with heated red wine and spices, you can usually buy a glass (or two) at winter markets to help keep you warm. The drink has different names in different parts of the world, but our favorite goes to Sweden, for the wonderfully named ‘glögg’.
Perhaps the strangest Christmas dinner tradition comes from Japan. Even though Christmas isn't a national holiday, it has become tradition for families to come together and enjoy a festive meal at… KFC. The tradition dates back to 1974 when the fast food chain launched a hugely successful “Kentucky for Christmas!” marketing campaign – and Japan has been enjoying Kentucky Fried Chicken ever since!
Panettone is a famous Italian sweet bread enjoyed across the world, from Europe to South America. Originally from Milan, the bread’s origins date back to the Roman Empire, when honey was used to sweeten a type of cake. Nowadays, panettone is usually made with dried fruits and enjoyed with hot drinks or sweet wine. Italian bakers produce more than 117 million panettone and pandoro cakes every Christmas — worth over 580 million euros!
In Poland it is traditional to eat pierogi, small dumplings stuffed with potato, sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese, or fruit. After being boiled, they are the baked or fried in butter with onions. The largest pierogi in the world is in Canada. It measures an astounding 30 ft (9 m), but sadly it can't be eaten: it is a statue made of steel.
What's your favorite holiday food? Do you have any interesting traditions from your country? Let us know in the comments below and make us even hungrier!