Thursday, 2 December 2010

Culturemouse Advent Calendar: Day Two

What's behind door number 2? Some tasty Christmas treats!

When I think of Christmas Cake I think of the horrible dense, slightly stale fruit cake that people lap up after their lunch. But in Japan, their Christmas Cake looks like THIS:

A sponge cake filled with cream, topped with strawberries and a sign to say 'Merry Christmas'. It's 100% better and I want it!

I've just learned about an old French tradition in the Provence area - the 13 desserts of Christmas. Sounds amazing, but 'desserts' is really a loose term. The 13 foods are supposed to represent the 12 apostles and Jesus Christ, and are consumed by families on Christmas Eve.

I'm not sure if this is in the definitive order, but it goes something like this:

  1. Le Pompe a Huile (bread made with orange flower water and olive oil)
  2. Black 'evil' Nougat made with honey and almonds; White 'good' Nougat made with pine nuts, pistachio and hazelnuts
  3. Yule Log
  4. 1st beggar: Hazelnuts; 2nd beggar: Almonds; 3rd beggar: Raisins; 4th beggar: Dry Figs
  5. Oranges
  6. Quince Jellies
  7. Dates stuffed with Marzipan
  8. Green Melon
  9. Candied Melon
  10. Apples and Pears
  11. Prunes
  12. Grapes
  13. Calisson d'Aix (Marzipan sweets)
Actual items vary depending on the region, and can also include biscuits, waffles and fried pastries.

One of the more common Christmas sweets enjoyed by many countries is gingerbread. A couple of years ago, the man and I had a go at making a gingerbread house. It was the most fun ever, EVER.

It's made me want to do it all over again - but maybe this time a train, or a castle. Or anything from here.

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