Where would Christmas be without the turkey?

UK - The NFU's Brussels office asks: `Why does Britain eat best?`
calendar icon 21 December 2006
clock icon 4 minute read

Gaining a few pounds, that’s one thing you are guaranteed at Christmas! But it’s all for a good cause - enjoying great British food! Centre to all this eating is of course the great Christmas day roast turkey with all the trimmings. If you still haven’t ordered yours yet then try the NFU Ted the Turkey website here.

A tasty British turkey would not be the same without the British streaky bacon, sausages and stuffing. As well as the locally sourced carrots, potatoes and everyone’s favourite Brussels sprouts. All washed down with a fine English sparkling wine!

Once you have stopped dribbling...the Christmas lunch is increasingly an opportunity to promote British produce, reconnecting the public with what is on their plate.

Today more questions are being asked such as “is it local produce?” and “does it carry the Red Tractor brand?” But is this the case across the EU? Are other countries as keen to connect their Christmas food with their nations agriculture? The picture is mixed.

The Portuguese and the Greeks are the bad boys of Europe when it comes to local sourcing. In Portugal, cod is an absolute favourite, imported mainly from Norway or Newfoundland off the East coast of North America. In Greece, there is a surge of turkeys being eaten at Christmas time - a trend imported from England, while most of the Turkeys come from France.

Germany is another country resisting the turkey tradition. Many traditional regional dishes are giving way to the Anglo-style Christmas lunch. However, we in Britain have been eating the German yuletide specialities such as stollen and gingerbread for years.

Nevertheless, whatever the weird and wonderful ingredients involved, it seems the general theme of the Christmas lunch is “keep it local”. In Spain they have also been affected by the stuffed turkey, yet turrón (a kind of hard nougat) remains a tasty tradition that is absolutely ‘Made in Spain’.

The Dutch like it wild. In Holland you can expect to eat rabbit, deer or venison for your Christmas lunch, turkey is definitely off the menu.

If in Sweden, it is mostly a fishy affair. Herring is marinated in onion or mustard, accompanied by raw salmon, cabbage and the famous Swedish meatball. In Denmark they make use of their bacon, with as much pork crackling as you can manage. Interesting is the traditional festive dessert “riz à l’amande” – a rice pudding dish with a French name eaten by nearly all Danes on Christmas day, of which nobody in France has heard!

The Belgians do it like the Brits, with Turkey – or fowl - and always followed by a Christmas chocolate log. In the Czech Republic Christmas dinner follows a strict format and is possibly the lowest fat Christmas lunch you will come across. First there is soup, then veal with a salad of carrots and celery, followed by a home made poppy seed tart.

To sum up then, we can be proud that in Britain Christmas is seen as an opportunity to eat local food and again highlight ‘Why Farming Matters’. What is more, I don’t know about you but I will be enjoying my roast turkey much more than I would herring marinated in onion! Buon appetite! Buon Natale!

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