Christmas is a time for celebration and togetherness – in other words, an excellent reason to have a feast with your close ones. What that feast comprises of depends on where you are in the world. In this article, we introduce to you 5 traditional Christmas foods you might not have heard of.
When you think of drinks on fire, you might think about trendy cocktails like the Flaming Lamborghini or the Waterfall. But what about the Feuerzangenbowle, a traditional Christmas drink originating in Germany? It also packs quite a wallop, since the alcohol involved needs at least be 54% ABV in order to burn. Picture a cup of red wine infused with a myriad of fragrant spices, like cinnamon, cloves and orange zest. Now picture a sugarloaf suspended over the drink and set alight. As the sugar melts, it caramelizes, resulting in a uniquely sugary spiced drink with a hefty punch.
It’s quite possible that for most people, Chef Gordon Ramsay was the one responsible for bringing their attention to Smalahove. On the season finale of his TV show Uncharted, Chef Ramsay prepared and ate part of a sheep’s head in Norway. The dish is usually eaten before Christmas in Norway and was once a poor man’s dish. Today, it enjoys an elevated stature in the realm of Norwegian cuisine, leading plucky tourists to seek it out. Although Chef Ramsay roasted his sheep’s head, the traditional recipe calls for the head to be brined for 24 hours before boiling. It is then served with beer, root vegetables, potatoes, nutmeg and cream.
Let’s scoot over to United Kingdom, the home of the Twelfth Cake, which is better known as the King’s Cake. Traditionally served on the Twelfth Night of Christmas, the cake’s popularity has declined since the days of the Industrial Revolution. There were 3 things the Twelfth Cake was known for. Being elaborately decorated and containing one hidden pea and also a hidden bean. As per custom, the cake is divided and distributed to the guests. The man who has the slice with the hidden bean becomes King for a day an the lady who has the pea becomes Queen for a day. Paper scepters and crowns are to be provided for the newly minted royals as well as regalia, if possible.
We go now to the Philippines, where Bibingbka is eaten for breakfast after Christmas Mass. Old recipes call for ground glutinous rice to be mixed with coconut milk, butter and eggs, though some modern versions are made with rice-flour. It is then delicately cooked over hot coals, in a clay pot lined with fragrant banana leaves. Some people like to have their Bibingka topped with salted duck egg, grated coconut and even melted cheese. Bibingka is also found in Indonesia.
If you’d like to try Bibingka, your best bet is Inasal Restaurant And Bakery, located on the 4th floor of Lucky Plaza.
When it comes to Christmas in Vietnam, the spread is diverse. The Vietnamese feast on Bánh Xèo, a type of savoury rice crepe), taro puffs, chicken soup, wantons and even Char Siew Baos. As a nod to their French colonial past, they then top it all off with bûche de Noël, or log cake. Going hungry is practically impossible with such a spread! The Bánh Xèo you see above is stuffed with bean sprouts, green onion and prawns.
Want to try some Bánh Xèo? If you find yourself in the vicinity of Smith Street, go on over to Cô Ba Quán, where you can get Bánh Xèo served with some fresh greens and some chili at $9.50.
If you had to pick one, which of the above would you most like to try? Would you try Smalahove if Chef Ramsay prepared for you? Let us know on our Facebook page.