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MORAN: A Spanish Christmas

Image Credit: Scott Moran
December 28, 2016 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


It has been a year since I heard Christmas music. I have no doubt it is currently being played in every retail store. Having worked one Christmas season in a local shop where I heard these obligatory jingles eight hours a day for two months, I have heard enough for a lifetime. The exception would be two songs; Christmas Canon Rock by the Trans - Siberian Orchestra and Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney.

There have been a few more very noticeable differences with my current Christmas experience. The only part that remains unchanged is the gathering of family around a big table for a feast.

This will be my third year spending Christmas in Europe. One holiday season in France, one in Italy, and the most recent, in Spain. In the shopping districts of major cities in Europe the commercial holiday vibe is thick in the air. Only a small percentage of Europeans can actually shop in these. To escape you go for a short walk or drive, and the retail buzz will no longer be a part of your surroundings.

Our celebration consisted of two meals with the family that is currently hosting me as a volunteer on their farm. The main event was late on Christmas Eve; vichysoisse soup (a creamy puree of potato, onion, stock, and cream served cold), jumbo prawns, something resembling lasagna, pork shoulder, and way too many pastries.

Image Credit: Scott Moran

On Christmas day we gathered again for a late lunch with the same menu, but turkey meatballs replaced the pork shoulder as the main course. Christmas landed on a weekend so Monday was a bank holiday.

Two feasts and a bank holiday. No lights, tree, advertising, jingles, setup, takedown, or stress! Even though our holidays have their humble roots in European culture, somehow the North American Christmas has morphed into its current form. I did miss lounging around Christmas morning with family, but that was the only part I missed, and I can get plenty of that done when I come home after winter.

Spanish Christmas may not be one hundred percent as humble as it sounds. There is another day of gift giving on January 5. This is to represent the tale of the three kings.

There are a few food cravings that I need to deal with. Unfortunately pumpkin pie cannot be done in Spain (canned filling or a specific variety of pumpkin are required) so at the top of my list is eggnog. I will be making a New Years Eve dinner for my hosts to give them a taste of authentic Canadian food. I'll cook macaroni and cheese as the main course.

— Scott Moran is a local forager discovering his own path to food freedom


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