Hong Kongers are known for loving food and often proud foodies. When it's Christmas in Hong Kong, restaurants offer different varieties of Christmas food. The Christmas food offered in the restaurants in Hong Kong varies slightly, it can be pasta, ham cooked in a variety of ways, turkey, roasted meat, seafood like lobster and sushi and desserts ranging from tiramisu to anything match. But why do the Christmas food in Hong Kong have so huge variation, and where do the inspiration for the dishes come from? It could be the influence from the huge international community in the city as well as the well traveled Hong Kongers. Everyone has brought with them something from their own Christmas.
We have taken a deep dive into the world's different Christmas food traditions, and maybe this will lead us to understand the huge variety in Hong Kong.
Japan is famous for being different, and again they have a crazy tradition (in the eyes of westerners). Japanese are famous for eating KFC on Christmas eve. It is said that people have to order weeks in advance to get their chicken on the day.
Norway has different traditions depending on where in the country you live. However there are some main types of dinners. The most common is ribbe, which is roasted pork belly with crispy rind (it is extremely important that the rind is crispy) and it is served with pork sausages, meat cakes, boiled potatoes, vegetables and sour cabbage. Other dishes are pinnekjøtt which is steamed mutton ribs, this is served with kohlrabi puree and potatoes. Lutefisk is another favourite, which is a dried white fish that has been pickled. It will be rehydrated for days before eating and will have a jelly texture. The fish is served with bacon, potatoes and mashed peas.
Christmas Eve is an extremely important day in Poland, where the family gathers and the dinner has been prepared for hours, maybe days. For supper on Christmas eve its tradition to serve 12 different dishes that include both savory and desserts. The number 12 comes from the belief that the number symbolises wealth, the 12 Apostles and it represent the 12 months of the year. The 12 dishes do not include any meat but more fish. Some of the dishes are beetroot soup, mushroom soup, carp, pierogi, sauerkraut, cabbage rolls, ginger bread and more.
The Christmas dinner in Denmark is fairly similar as the dinner in Norway, but a huge majority in Denmark also eat roasted duck. The chosen meat is usually served with potatoes, red cabbage, and a lot of gravy. However, for dessert the danish people usually eat rice pudding with the name Risalamande. The pudding is served with cherry sauce or strawberry sauce. Often there is an almond hidden in the big bowl and the person who gets it will win a prize. It is also normal to drink Gløgg, which is mulled wine.
The typical and traditional British Christmas dinner usually includes different roasted birds like, goose, duck, turkey or pheasant. However, the most normal dish is roasted turkey with stuffing. The side dishes will most likely consist of roasted potatoes, cranberry sauce, pigs in blankets, gravy, Yorkshire pudding and vegetables (highly likely to be Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, parsnips) and the dessert consist of Christmas pudding.
Christmas is a huge holiday in Greece and highly valued. One traditional dish served is the avgolemono, which is a chicken and rice soup with egg yolk and lemon. Other dishes include pork stuffed cabbage and Christopsomo which is a bread. For dessert the Greek people have several different things, one very popular dessert is the melomakarona. It's a cookie made with cinnamon, cloves and orange and then dipped in light syrup made of honey. Another dessert is the Kourabiedes that is a kind of shortbread/cookie/biscuit, but it is made with almonds. The cookies are rolled in icing sugar right after being backed.
The Christmas dinner in Mexico is enjoyed with the whole family late at night on Christmas Eve, it includes different dishes like tamales, pozole (soup consisting of garlic, chile chicken or pork, see picture below), bacalao (dried salted cod), bunuelos (fried dough with sugar), atole (traditional hot corn beverage) and menudo (traditional soup made on cow stomach). Even though the dishes usually are the same across the country, the different regions have their own variations. The western Christmas dinner style is also increasing in popularity in Mexico in the recent years.
Christmas dinner in the US is fairly similar to the one in the UK and can resemble the dinner for Thanksgiving. The dinner most likely includes stuffed turkey, ham, roasted vegetables, gravy and mashed potatoes. The dessert would include pies like apple pie or pumpkin pie, cookies like gingerbread, and last but not least eggnog with booze.
As Australia celebrates Christmas during summer, the tradition of doing BBQ is getting more popular as it is beating the heat. Otherwise traditional british dinner is also normal. But Australia has their own twist, they also serve meat like turkey, ham or chicken cold with sauces, salads and roasted vegetables.
There are many similarities between the different countries Christmas traditions. Some things like roasted turkey and ham is typical dishes around the world. However, some countries have somethings special like the beet soup or the rice porridge. This shows that the Christmas food offered in Hong Kong during Christmas have hug inspiration from all over the world and you can most likely find what you need from any country in Hong Kong.
What is your favourite Christmas food?