WHAT DO SPANISH EAT AT CHRISTMAS?
There is not just one iconic Christmas meal in Spain like in some countries. Although some similarities can be found in the Christmas menu in Spain, there is much more freedom. You can find almost everything you can think of on the Christmas table - ripened cheeses, the best Jamon, roasted vegetable appetizers (eg in Alicante roasted artichokes), seafood, but also chicken soup, expensive meats, roasted fish and traditional desserts.
Since it is almost impossible to mention all that in a single article, we have decided to ask our friend José Miguel Ramirez what does a Xmas dinner look like at his house in Malaga.
Roasted artichokes are served as an appetizer in Alicante.
CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER
First of all, it is necessary to say that it is the most important of all the family gatherings or celebrations in the year. The whole of our family gets together, this includes me, my wife and our children, my siblings and their children (eight in total), and their partners, my wife's sister with her husband and their children, my parents and my wife's parents, and sometimes my two cousins with their families. If you count us all, some might say it's too many of us, but that's the way we love it and wouldn't have it any other way.
Because we are Catholics, someone is constantly referring in various ways to the birth of Jesus Christ. Before we enjoy our food, one of the children read a prayer and a relatively long wish to all the poor on this earth. It is a typical manifestation of a person living in this part of the world.
Before I start talking about the food itself, it would be good to say a few words about organizing the preparation of the evening. Because it's so many of us, it is almost impossible to leave the preparation of an entire dinner to a single cook from our family. Therefore, over the years, a slightly chaotic rule has developed that each family brings ingredients for one meal which it will then prepare sometimes during the evening. Needless to say, the duplication and tripling or, on the other hand, the lack of some essential ingredients is a key phenomenon throughout the evening.
Exclusive seafood is served as a demonstration of family welfare.
FIRST COURSE - CHEESE, JAMON AND SEAFOOD
First, some good quality sheep and goat cheese are served with some jamón, which is ideally, although not always sliced on the table by hand from the whole leg of ham. Also a rich selection of seafood, which must always include some cold cooked shrimp from San Lucar. When it comes to the choice of Jamon, our family only serves Jamon Iberico, which accompanies not only our Christmas Eve dinner but also the whole Christmas holiday. Shrimps play an important part because in their selection individual families tend to show who has more money. Sometimes real sea monsters land on the table, but my family is the poorest of all families, so we buy frozen shrimps in the supermarket and these are often eaten last.
Concha Fina Pil Pil, the most popular clam recipe in Malaga
Jamon is served during the whole Xmas holiday up to the Three Kings.
SECOND COURSE - SOUP
After some cold appetizers, we enjoy some fish or meat soup. The meat soup's broth is prepared from a hen, beef and pork (Jamon). First, some sliced meat and Jamon cubes, vegetables, chickpeas, potatoes and boiled eggs are served on individual plates. Then the boiling meat broth is poured over. The fish soup, which in our case is perhaps the only truly exclusively Christmas meal, because all of us eat it only at Christmas, is served in a similar way to the meat soup, with the difference that we also add some croutons at the end.
THIRD COURSE - PRECIOUS MEAT
Then comes the meat, and when I say meat, I mean an exclusive piece of beef, very often sirloin. It is often roasted, served rare with fried or baked potatoes and some spicy sauce.
The highlight of the Xmas dinner
DESSERT - Everyone into their PJs
Surprisingly, we usually finish our stylish Xmas dinner with the most cheesy dessert of the '80s, to which we may be returning from some cheap nostalgia. It is called Pijama (pyjamas) and consists of a Danone vanilla custard from a supermarket, some pineapple or peach compote, and an incredible amount of whipped cream.