One of EuroCham’s missions is to help European businesses and residents in Hong Kong and turn their priorities into reality. Right now, there is one true priority: Christmas! Even in this very peculiar year, where many of us have had to change our plans, it remains one of the essential traditions that ties us back to our European home. That is why we at EuroCham want to ensure that you get the Christmas cheers you deserve in 2020.
There is no denying that culinary delicacies and excesses are one of the highlights of the European Christmas experience. Fortunately, even in the times of Covid, food remains one of the holiday joys that everyone can enjoy freely, especially in a gourmet’s paradise such as Hong Kong.
Whether you love spending hours in the kitchen or prefer the simplicity of catering services, here is a selection of ideas from all of the countries represented in EuroCham to help you with your planning, all the while discovering unfamiliar – but delicious – traditions and helping out local European Food & Beverages businesses in Hong Kong.
Christmas Eve was originally the last day of the Advent fast, during which period many kinds of food were prohibited, especially meat. That is why many Christmas menus today start with seafood, such as Scottish smoked salmon in the United Kingdom or oysters in France. Conveniently, these light and fresh starters are also a great way to open the meal!
Across Western Europe, roast turkey or capon reigns supreme as the centrepiece of the Christmas table, but the reason why might surprise you! Their rich and juicy taste is what we like today, but back in the 16th century, households chose this strange new bird from the Americas to avoid culling their milking cows and laying hens.
But do not let Christmas movies fool you: there is more to Christmas than turkey! Just across the Irish sea, the Irish favor spiced beef, salted and cured with delicious condiments from the world over, then boiled or steamed in Guinness. That’s certainly a tradition everyone can get behind! In Germany and Austria, meanwhile, fried carp is an old-time favourite, owing to their abundance in local rivers.
Now, drinking is as important as eating to the Christmas spirit, which is why so many countries have special drinks for the holiday. And perhaps that is where the national character comes out best. The French keep it classy with some chilled champagne, while German-speaking and Scandinavian countries love to share some warm and comforting mulled wine, called Glühwein or Glögg. Romanians, for their part, start the meal with țuică, a sweet but very intense plum spirit.
Most European children – and many adults too – will agree that desserts and sweets are the real deal for Christmas. In the United Kingdom and France, the meal often ends with a frosted and layered yule log, meant to recall the log once used to fire the chimney. The Danish and Finnish prefer a nice rice pudding served with cherry compote and almonds. Sweet breads are also a staple across the continent, such as the Dutch kerststol and Italian panettone, filled with an extravaganza of dried or candied fruits.
Even after the meal is over, Christmas delights can be enjoyed at any time of the day and night. Spaniards always appreciate a piece of turrón, a white nougat generally made with honey, almonds and hazelnuts. The Portuguese enjoy a slice of bolo rei, a colourful crown-shaped cake, lightly spiced and fluffy, filled with fruit and nuts. The Belgians indulge in cinnamon-rich speculoos biscuits. Italians and French have a bite of the incredibly soft marrons glacés, candied chestnuts glazed with sugar.
We could go on and on, as Europe offers such a dizzying variety of Christmas delicacies and traditions! We hope this selection rekindled some delicious childhood memories, got your imagination running and your stomach rumbling in preparation for the festive season!
Do not forget that most of these products we love can be found in Hong Kong. If you want to know more about the many local European-owned stores where you can find them, our member chambers have done numerous initiatives well worth your attention to promote their national products and businesses.
Get in touch, we are happy to point you to the right member!