Five very Christmassy culinary experiences in Spain
The lights, the presents, the decorations, the great food... Christmas is a holiday full of traditions and we want to help you discover some of the most delicious ones during your holidays in Spain. It will also be very easy for you to find special menus in restaurants and hotels and the bakeries will be overflowing with Christmas confectionery.
A very delicious way to warm up while you’re seeing the sights
It’s Christmas, it’s cold and you have so much to see... We’ll give you a piece of advice for warming up on a tour of the monuments you want to visit: buy some roasted chestnuts at one of the multiple stalls you will find anywhere in the tourism area. The aroma of roasted chestnuts and sweet potatoes will surely be enough for you to find them during your stroll.
A Christmas meal that is almost never-ending
Have you been for tapas in Spain before? Have you seen the counters in the bars brimming with small plates? Well, in Spain, it’s normal for the most grandiose Christmas meals to start with a tray of assorted starters that may remind you of those counters laden with mouth-watering morsels. Iberian ham, a wide variety of rich cheeses, seafood, preserves, pickles, elaborate delicacies prepared specially for the festivities... It’s almost hard to believe that these are just starters.
Then the first course arrives and this typically involves a stew or soup/broth. Andalusian stew, Catalan escudella (a traditional meat stew with sausage), garlic soup (for example in Castle-La Mancha), cream of almonds in the Balearic Islands or even trout soup (typically in Castile and Leon) are the most popular. Rotisserie meat (especially lamb, suckling pig or Ternasco lamb, if possible, cooked in a woodfire oven) and oven-baked fish, such as bream or sea bass, are among the most typical main courses.
A moment of sweetness
We told you that the meal was never-ending, right? Well, this was not an exaggeration. At Christmas, to round off the meal, the table is filled with all types of Christmas confectionery, covering the typically large tabletop. Perhaps it’s for this reason or because children are the centre of these celebrations, but sweet is the flavour that defines Christmas in Spain.
The list of treats for those with a sweet tooth available during these festivities is enormously long, and each region has its own specialities. Our recommendation is to consider lunchtime as a permanent state of being and try to sample the different types of nougat, cookies, marzipan and, of course, Epiphany Cake. Even though you will be able to enjoy it in bakeries and restaurants throughout the festivities, the most traditional way is to eat it in the afternoon on 5 January (while the Epiphany parade takes place) or on 6January, after the Magi have left presents for all the children. It has something special hidden inside: a small figure that brings good luck to the person lucky enough to find it in their slice.
Toasts that are 100% Spanish
We are referring to those made with cava. This is a sparkling, dry white wine produced in Spain and it is perfect for special occasions. Do you want to make it even more Spanish? Then you have to say “Salud” (good health) when making your toast. Another more informal version is “Chin-chin”, though it’s likely you will hear a lot of people toasting using the more popular cry of “Arriba, abajo, al centro y adentro” (up, down, together, then bottoms up).
Twelve grapes for good luck
Would you like next year to be amazing? Then you have to eat 12 grapes for good luck on 31 December as the clock strikes midnight. You will see how the country grinds to a halt in front of the television, and how everyone eats their grapes along with the sound of the clock chiming. According to tradition, if you manage to eat all the grapes in time, you are in for a year full of prosperity and good luck. If you really want to make the most of these experiences, we encourage you to do so in person at the Puerta del Sol square in Madrid (remember that you need to arrive at the square a few hours before). If you are in another city, don’t worry, grapes are eaten in almost all cities at one of their landmarks.
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