Happy Wednesday, friends! Those of us who celebrate Christmas are pretty busy right now getting ready for the big event. There's plenty of baking and cooking going on in preparation. So much about the holidays seems to center around food and family traditions. I'd like to share some of mine with you as well as share a recipe to help celebrate the holiday and make it a little more jolly.
I'm Italian on my father's side and Scandinavian on my mother's. Both cultures have some interesting ways of celebrating the Christmas season.
On Christmas Eve, many Italian and Italian-American families enjoy a buffet of different kinds of seafood. That meal is known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Why seven fishes? Well, some say it's because God took seven days to create the universe. Or maybe because there are seven sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church. Or perhaps the explanation, like so many things, will have to remain a mystery.
Something my family often enjoyed Christmas Eve was shrimp, which was a rare treat for us. A special dish often associated with this feast is salted cod fish or baccalà. I've never had it myself, and to tell the truth am not particularly eager to try. (Hey, I could be wrong, maybe it's very tasty.)
My mother's parents came from Sweden and Denmark and those Scandinavian countries are no slouches either when it comes to Christmas Eve dinner. After a sumptuous meal, which often includes roast pork, duck, goose or ham, rice pudding will be served. Inside the treat is one whole almond or a raisin. Whoever gets the portion with the hidden goodie is given a small gift and promised good luck all year.
A traditional Christmas libation is Gløgg or Glögg. (There seems to be variation of spelling and pronunciation. In our house we pronounced it glug.) This is a beverage made with wine, whiskey and spices and served warm. My mother would make this from my grandfather's recipe.
Here's a recipe that's similar to my grandpa's:
1 bottle of port wine (my mom always used ruby port, but you might prefer something less sweet)
¼ - ½ bottle whiskey
1 cinnamon stick
A few whole cloves
2 – 3 tablespoons sugar (if desired)
1 cup dark raisins
½ cup blanched slivered almonds
Combine the wine, whiskey and spices in a pot and heat on the stove. Once it's hot, remove spices with a slotted spoon and add the raisins and almonds. Serve in small cups with a spoonful of raisins and nuts in each cup (a treat to eat once you've drunk the glogg).
This can be made in advance and stored in wine bottles. It should be reheated to serve.
Yum. Delicious, but it's some powerful stuff!
Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope Santa brings you everything you wish for!
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