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Christmas Meals

What to eat at Christmas is a question that may have vexed you last week. Or perhaps you just followed family tradition and had what you always have at Christmas. But it is the case that Christmas dinners are very different from culture to culture and from family to family. And there are many ideas to help with holiday meal planning.

There are those who will eat ham at Christmas. The origins of this meal are in Scandinavia amongst the German peoples as a tribute to Freyr, a god associated with boars, harvest and fertility. The Catholic Church regarded the eating of ham as a sign of true conversion to that faith, with backsliders refusing to eat the ham. Most popular is a large ham which will be carved at the dinner table. The advantage of ham is that any leftover makes for great sandwiches or can be used in numerous other dishes. One might also eat roast suckling pig, a somewhat more fancy version of pork, for the Christmas meal. Getting the pig to fit in the oven might make cooking this a bit difficult. Suckling pig is something that might be served in many different cultures from Northern Europe to South America to the Philippines.

Beef is another popular dish for the Christmas meal. Prime rib is an obvious favourite but beef tenderloin is also another popular dish. Again the carving of the meat makes for the holiday occasion. Serve the beef with roast potatoes, vegetables such as brussel sprouts, carrots, and creamed onions.

In England the preference at Christmas seems to be for birds. A roast turkey is a favourite of the festive table served with the trimmings, a stuffing cooked in the turkey or separately, roast or mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts and so on. For those who are able to spend a little more or who go and hunt for their dinner, a goose is quite appropriate for the Christmas dinner. One can fill the cavity of the goose with fruits, especially apples and dried prunes, to make it especially fragrant. Sage and onion stuffing is de rigeur with roast goose.

A sparkling wine can start the dinner off properly with hors d’oeuvres. Good wine, especially a bordeaux or a burgundy, are excellent with all these foods and establish the right festive mood. For dessert why not try a traditional Christmas pudding made from dried fruits or plums. An ideal cheese, which can be be served as a penultimate course or the final course (British style), is a stilton

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