As we’re already in December, today we’ll talk about Spanish traditional dishes during Christmas holidays.
Christmas is without any doubt the most gastronomic period in the year. During Christmas holidays Spanish families gather together to eat and everything is focused on food and on what to prepare for ones guests. Even though every region has its own traditional variety of dishes, there are some main meals that are shared by the entire country and that you can find on every Spanish table at Christmas.
First of all, if you’ll be in Spain during Christmas, you need to know that among all the reunions in December, the dinner on the Christmas’ Eve (noche buena) is considered the most important. So if you want to go eating at a restaurant that day, book a table as soon as you can because chances that everywhere will be fully booked are very high. Christmas dinner with relatives usually starts around 22:00 and can last 4/5 hours depending on the family.
Christmas menu has changed greatly during the years. In the past, the abundants Christmas Eve’s dinner was mostly consumed by the elite families where the main dish was the turkey stuffed with truffles called pavo trufado. While nowadays, there’s no class division and people spare no expense for the Christmas Eve meal. Generally we can say that there are some must that cannot lack on a Spanish table during Christmas.
Mariscos (seafood) especially shellfish are very popular. Spanish people eat them in every way, steamed or in a soup or mixed into paella or pan fried or stew as in the guiso de pescado (fish stew). For example in Asturias people eat las fabes that is a dish with hake and clams and in Galicia el bacalao con coliflor (codfish with cauliflower) is very traditional. Meat is very popular as well, you can find different dishes that include a great variety of meat, from el puchero de pelotas de carne (ball meat soup) in Valencia to el cochinillo al horno (pig roast) en Castilla La Mancha, to el cabrito a la sidra en Asturias to el cordero al horno (lamb roast) en Castilla y Leon. En Cataluña la escudella i carn d’olla is very popular on Christmas holidays and it’s a very filling dish with meat broth and sopa de galets that is a kind of vegetables and meat broth. Vegetable is very common as well, the most popular is el cardo (thistle) that is eaten with almonds in La Rioja and with béchamel sauce in Aragon.
The most popular sweet of the Christmas period is without any doubt el turrón (nougat with nuts or chocolate). There are two kinds of turrón: turrón duro (crunchy toffee) popular in Alicante, and turrón blando (soft almond-buttery) mainly made in Jijona. However, there are thousands of different turrónes, so you’ll surely find a favourite: with dark chocolate, walnut, marzipan or candied fruits. Other traditional desserts in this season are polvorones (kind of shortbread with almond and powder sugar), mantecados (a shortbread made of lard) and rosquillo de vino (an anise and wine flavored cookie).
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