British Christmas culinary curiosities

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The United Kingdom has several Christmas traditions which are considerably different from those of Brazil.

(To jig your memory, take another look at the third issue of BBMag’s cover story, about the similarities and differences between Brazilian and UK end-of-year parties). 

With a wide variety of traditions, a lot of the differences between the two cultures have something to do with eating habits.

Here is a list of some thoroughly British Christmas foods:

Gravy

Gravy is a sauce popularly served as an accompaniment to meat dishes, and one of the most important features of a British Christmas Dinner. It is drizzled over roast turkey, roast potatoes and other vegetables, such as parsnip – a root vegetable which resembles a carrot in its shape, but is lighter in colour and has a stronger, sweeter flavour. Parsnip is virtually unheard of in Brazil, but quite popular in England.

 

Pig’s head

A medieval English Christmas banquet table was not complete without this centrepiece dish. Nowadays, requirements are not so attention grabbing: a simple stuffed turkey and a plump Christmas pudding (made using 13 ingredients, in tribute to Jesus and his 12 disciples) will do the job nicely.

 

Brussels sprouts

Usually cooked with garlic, brussels sprouts are a traditional accompaniment for the Christmas turkey. During the other 364 days of the year, they are rarely used, except as an occasional accompaniment for roasted meats in English restaurants.

 

Mince pie

Another British Christmas classic, the mince pie – so named due to the fact that it originally contained meat – is a small, sweet pastry which nowadays contains dried fruits, cinnamon, nuts and spices, and is immensely popular with Brits over the festive period.

 

Christmas Dinner
In the UK, as opposed to in other countries, such as Brazil, 24 December is not an official day of celebration. Most people go to work, usually until midday, and spend the rest of the day getting ready for the 25th. Christmas Day itself is the big day, which everyone celebrates with a big, late family lunch and, of course, one or two presents. It’s quite common for people to have a big breakfast so as to see themselves through to the big meal.

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