Christmas lunch comes in many flavours across the globe
Christmas lunch comes in many flavours across the globe

Turkey? Curried goat? Or sea-urchin omelette?

20 December 2016

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas dinner, which depending on where you live could feature curdled milk, French toast and a pack from KFC...

Remember, remember the 25 December because that is the day when, according to Wren Kitchens, the average Briton will consume 5,906 calories – equivalent to 12 Big Macs. To burn that off, you need to do 13 hours of aerobics or go for a 21.5 hour walk which, depending on how fond you are of your family, may seem the safer option.

In an utterly unscientific, but thoroughly festive, survey, Supply Management has asked correspondents across the globe to identify the typical festive fare in their homeland. So here we have the typical ingredients and the cost for a family of four (excluding drinks) from 10 countries.

Australia

Main ingredient: salmon. Overall cost: £126.70

There is no definitive traditional meal, but prawns and seafood are pretty common. Cold ham is a popular main course, but general barbecue food, cold meats, or even turkey is perfectly acceptable. A typical starter would feature banana prawns and two rock lobsters. Pavlova is an Aussie classic pudding, and standard fare at Christmas, with seasonal mangoes and cherries on offer too. Whether or not the cooking is done on the barbecue, the meal will likely be eaten outdoors. Apart from the obligatory white wine, run and brandy are favourite tipples.

Brazil

Main ingredient: roast turkey. Overall cost: £69.80

Brazil’s Christmas dinners vary almost as much as its climate – which is tropical in the north and temperate in the south – but roast turkey, served with exotic fruits, codfish and glazed gammon are usually on the menu. Seasonal delicacies include, for dessert, rabanada, a variant of French toast (which originated in Portugal, Brazil’s former imperial power). Other imported treats include panettone, stollen and apple strudel. Those who can afford it drink champagne with the dinner but many will settle for cider, the poor man’s bubbly. 

Dubai

Main ingredient: roast turkey. Overall cost: £100

If you’re one of the 2.3m expats in Dubai – only 8% of the population is Emirati – you have to book 25 December as a day off as it’s not an official holiday. All of the hotels offer Christmas Day brunch –  all you can eat and drink for four hours for a fixed price between £50 and £200 depending on where you go. Some expats have a Christmas meal delivered to their home, cooked and ready to eat. It costs around £20-£30 a head for a whole cooked turkey and the usual trimmings (roast potatoes, sprouts, pigs in blankets, stuffing etc). Though Dubai’s legal drinking age is 21, a Christmas tipple is best savoured in a hotel or restaurant.

France

Main ingredient: roast turkey. Overall cost: £82.98

The main Festive meal, called Réveillon, is eaten on Christmas Eve and though turkey remains the traditional core of the French Christmas dinner, it is not the most expensive item on the shopping list. Foie gras (£14.50) and a pack of oysters (£12.81) are pricier. The festive feast will include snails, cheese and baguettes and a surprising amount of seafood – apart from the oysters, salmon is a popular starter. One of the odder regional variations is sea urchin omelette, a Corsican delicacy. For dessert, a buche de Noel, a Christmas chocolate cake served like a log is traditionally preferred.

Italy

Main ingredient: boiled meat. Overall cost: £100

Two meals mark the festive season in Italy. People eat lean on Christmas Eve and fat on Christmas Day. Culinary traditions vary across the country, which was only unified in 1861, but in Mantova, in Lombardy, the five-course festive meal includes: pasta parcels filled with meat, called cappelletti or agnoli, in a meat broth; pork sausage with creamed potato and lentils; the boiled meat – which can be roasted veal, baked chicken or braised beef – used to make broth for the cappelletti, served with mustard fruit and parmesan; panettoni and pandoro sweet cakes; and fruit. Red and white wine are usually served to match each course – prosecco is increasingly popular – and the piece de resistance is bombardino, Italian egg nog, made up of brandy, egg liqueur, whipped cream and cinnamon.

Jamaica

Main ingredient: curried goat. Overall cost: £100

As it’s typically 31oC on Christmas Day in Jamaica, the Caribbean country has very different Christmas traditions and these are reflected in its choice of food and the time they eat (typically around 7pm). Gungo rice and pies, curried goat, macaroni, potato salad, and a fruit cake, heavily soaked in rum and wine, are essential – as is a glass or two of sorrel, an intoxicating fruit drink that tastes like someone has spiked the Ribena.

Japan

Main ingredient: Kentucky Fried Chicken. Overall cost: £30.70

Although Japan is home to two million Christians, 25 December is not a national holiday. The tradition for families who are at home is to find the nearest branch of KFC and order a Christmas pack, which will contain five pieces of chicken, then chicken nuggets, four chicken tenders and two barbeque chickens. This works out at around £27 not including drinks. If that’s washed down with Coke, that could be rounded up to about £30.70. Families with bigger appetites can splash out on £29.20, which also includes Christmas cake and Christmas salad.

Latvia

Main ingredient: roast pork. Overall cost: £42.30

In the Baltic nation, the traditional festive favourite is pork, either roasted and accompanied by sautéed sauerkraut or boiled, as a pig’s head, with boiled barley. Roast pork is more popular, served with mashed potato and 20 bacon pies. The meal may start with a sweet and sour soup, made with beef or fish, and finish with gingerbreads. The traditional pig’s head is often served with a glass of curdled milk. Whether variant of pork is preferred, the meal will be probably be washed down by red wine.

Russia

Main ingredient: potato salad. Overall cost: £159.70

The Russian Orthodox Christmas falls on 7 January and 87% of people celebrate on this day, not 25 December. By tradition, Christmas is preceded by a 40-day fast which is broken on Christmas Eve with sochivo, a dish of sweetened cooked grain. On Christmas Day, the meat course differs significantly – goose is one popular option – and the most distinctive savoury dish is the Russian variant of potato salad, a blend of potatoes, carrots, sweet peas, pickles, onion, bologna, eggs and sour cream. Kozulyas, reindeer-shaped cookies, are a popular treat. 

UK

Main ingredient: roast turkey. Overall cost: £51.30

In the market where e-commerce penetration is higher than in any developed economy, millions of Britons will order many of their ingredients online – even if many prefer their local butcher to supply the turkey. Online, a frozen bronze turkey from a mainstream grocer such as Tesco would cost around £20 with the next most expensive items being a festival pack of vegetables (£12) and Christmas pudding (£8). A Nationwide Building Society survey suggests that consumers spend an average of £21.26 on booze for their Christmas meal, although 10% spent less than a fiver and 6% insisted they had a dry Christmas. A Mintec survey says that the typical festive repast will cost 1% more than in 2015.

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