Traditions of home
The festive season is upon us once again! In the UK, the tradition is to put up our Christmas trees and listen to old festive pop-songs on repeat…But no matter what else is happening there is one thing on our mind… Our delicious Christmas feast. Most of us will be picturing a huge turkey, gravy and fluffy Yorkshire puddings, traditionally served with roasted potatoes and root vegetables, sprouts, stuffing, pigs in blankets and condiments like bread or cranberry sauce.
However, if you are living overseas on international assignment at Christmas time, you might find yourself missing the festive flavours of home. To prevent yourself feeling too homesick, why not try to forge some new traditions by adopting some of the culinary creations of your host country? In any society that celebrates Christmas, you will find a rich range of other delicacies to grace your ‘assignee-Christmas-table’. Some great examples are listed below…
Greenland is sometimes described as Santa’s holiday residence, however when he visits, he is unlikely to be chomping on mince pies. The traditional Christmas meal of Greenland is ‘Mattak’ which contains whale blubber wrapped in their skin! Another delicacy is ‘Kiviak’ which is a type of arctic bird that has been left to decompose in sealskin, finished with an abundance of Danish Pastries.
The Romanian Christmas meal is all about pork (and not an ounce goes to waste)! For your main meal you will eat delicious gammon and pork chops, with a side of sour vegetable soup and pork meatballs. Next to this will be ‘Sarmale’, cabbage leaves stuffed with pork and traditionally served with polenta. For dessert there will be a plethora of doughnuts, pastries and fruit breads!
Jamaica starts Christmas with rum punch and ends with wine and rum cake (deliciously soaked in white rum and red wine months before)! You’ll also be hitting your five a day with a breakfast of fresh fruits, fried plantains, fruit juice and boiled bananas, who says Christmas can’t be healthy? For dinner you’ll enjoy flavoursome goat curry, rice and peas with a variety tasty side dishes.
To celebrate Christmas in Norway you might be dining on ‘Smalahove’ which is an entire sheep’s head (boiled or smoked depending on your preference). Another popular dish is ‘Ribbe’, which as the name suggests is Pork ribs, and for dessert you’ll have rice pudding with a hidden almond. If you’re lucky enough to find the almond, you’ll be rewarded with the prize of a marzipan pig!
Despite its traditions, the UK is not exempt from weird Christmas options. A Yorkshire pudding burrito has been advertised in British supermarkets, along with a Christmas pizza (topped with turkey, cheese, pigs in blankets and stuffing balls with a sachet of cranberry sauce). You can wash these down with Turkey Gin (I am not joking, Portebello Road Gin created this festive concoction).
So if you are based away from home over the festive period, don’t feel blue – there are clearly many wonderful Christmas dinner options for you to try. Sinking your teeth into local customs this year will certainly give you something fun to write home about! Whatever seasonal meal you choose to enjoy this year, have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year!
Written by Sofie Finemore – Recruitment Resourcer – Global Mobility & Expatriate Services at Alchemy Global Talent Solutions