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Monday, December 21, 2015

Burnaby Food First wishes you a merry Christmas

We wish all our readers a very happy and healthy Christmas. Here's wishing everyone also a lovely festival season and wonderful times with family and friends.

The festivities are all around us this month and foodies are probably already beginning to plan their Christmas dinner menus. So in this post we will try and visit some of the diverse food traditions celebrated in Canada during Christmas time brought over by the potpourri of immigrant cultures taking root here over the centuries. 

The main dish of the holiday dinner is usually roast turkey with stuffed dressing, cranberry sauce, gravy and this is part of the European traditions that early settlers have adapted and followed here for generations. Some families with ties to our neighbours south of the border may choose roast beef or ham or other poultry instead of turkey. More recent immigrants introduced the use of Asian recipes to cook the winter vegetables instead of the usual mashed potatoes, boiled carrots, green beans, squash or turnips for the sides. Also the protein could include a vegetarian option such as tofu or salmon for a lighter Christmas meal. Some families with middle eastern roots end up cooking a peasant meal or a lamb stew. 

Customary desserts include rich, heavy puddings filled with dried fruits or plums or carrot puddings or a sherry trifle. There are sometimes replaced here by fruity or creamy treats at the end of a hearty wintry meal. Perhaps you have had a chance to attend Burnaby Food First's free workshop earlier this month and plan a 'homemade apple dessert' this year for a change!

Source: CBC

In parts like Quebec there is also a tradition to celebrate 'r√©veillon' on Christmas Eve with a sumptuous dinner consisting of lobster, oysters or foie gras and a meat pie called 'toutierre'. Dessert is 'Buche de Noel', a special thinly rolled sponge cake baked and designed to resemble the traditional 'Yule log' burned as part of a historic bonfire ritual. These are influences of historic French/European celebrations. In some parts of Nova Scotia, lobster is cooked on Christmas Eve. 

Other Christmas traditions here include cookie baking parties. Flavours from all over have made their way into the typical Canadian palette be it spice ginger cookies like the German 'lebkuchen' or Scottish shortbreads or Italian florentines or French meringues. BC's very own 'Nanaimo bars' are also a favourite for many. Mince pies are little pies filled with dried fruit mince and covered with a crumbly pastry. These are a must have for Christmas. Butter tarts topped with raisins, walnuts or pecans are popular in Eastern Canada. Children love the candy canes in red and white. 

Has reading about all this delicious mouth watering food inspired you to also cook something special or treat yourself to a special drink? Why not try your hand at baking some mince pies or pumpkin pies accompanied maybe with some fresh apple cider or eggnog? Here's wishing you once again a delicious and healthy Christmas!

Some links for further reading:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/is-turkey-still-king-how-canadian-holiday-food-traditions-are-changing-1.2466006
http://www.foodtimeline.org/christmasfood.html
http://cnmag.ca/food/1503-christmas-foods-a-canadian-tradition
http://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/canada.shtml

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