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Coming from a bi-National household, my childhood Christmases were a mishmash of cultural influences. In this edition of Christmas vs. Jul we're looking at whether the Danes or the English are the kings of Christmas cuisine.
You can pretty much tell from looking at me, I like snacks. Snacks are great. Christmas snacks are generally delightful.
English Christmas snacks seem to mostly be chocolate, and I’m not complaining about that. Unless it’s those grotty ones that are basically strawberry toothpaste in a chocolate shell, those are the worst. But give me a toffee penny and I’m a happy lady. I could take or leave mince pies, mostly because I get asked by the wider family to make them and I bake hundreds of the sodding things every year. I think I’ve reached mince pie saturation. Oh, also there is generally a larger than usual amount of cheese in my house at Christmas, and that is also a good thing. Gingerbread men and candy canes are basically fine too.
Danish Christmas snacks are things like pebernodder which are little spicy shortbread biscuit thingies that you put in little baskets and hang on your tree. They’re nice and all but they don’t really wave my red-and-white-and-wonky flag. We also have butter cookies (better) which are melty, buttery, vanilla flavoured biscuits. And then there are klejner, little knotty biscuits that you deep-fry.
Basically Danish Christmas snacks are mostly biscuits. Which is great if you really like biscuits. Otherwise, I’ll be honest, it’s all a bit too biscuity. Also mostly of them have cardamom in them. For this reason, England just tips it.
England – 1 Denmark – 0
The Main Meal
Now, this is one thing that English Christmas wins at, without a shadow of a doubt. I know it’s just a giant chicken with gravy, veg and jam. I know it’s basically a Sunday roast with additional tiny cabbages. I know that it’s never all cooked properly at the same time and that someone always gets the best parsnips first. But it really is just bloody brilliant.
Danish Christmas meals are generally roast animals as well, typically pork, but roast beasts are definitely the preserve of the English. It’s a fact. And also Danish Christmas dinner also includes red cabbage which I loathe. No further debate necessary.
(Also, sprouts with bacon and chestnuts are basically the best. Danish people don’t do that.)
England – 2 Denmark – 0
This one is kind of a marmite situation because if you love fruitcake and Christmas pudding then obviously you’re going to prefer English Christmas confections. However, I don’t like desserts that could perform double duty as doorstops, and I despise booze in puddings, so English Christmas desserts are my personal idea of dried-fruit-studded-flaming hell. Also the idea of breaking my tooth on a sixpence on a Bank Holiday does not appeal in the slightest. You can keep that one, England. It’s all yours.
In Denmark rice pudding is a way of life, and this extends into Christmas. Specifically we have ris á l’amande. Don’t be fooled by the French name, it’s Danish and is only eaten in Denmark. I don’t know why it’s called something French. It’s cold rice pudding whipped up with cream and chopped almonds. I know, it sounds gross, but I promise it’s lovely. Especially as it’s served with hot cherry sauce (which had whole cherries in it and is generally yummy). A whole almond is hidden in the bowl and whoever finds it gets a prize. Traditionally that’s a marzipan pig (as in the image above), but it varies. I don’t really care about that tradition though (because I never win and I’m a very bitter person.) You also leave some rice pudding out for the nissermen to keep ‘em sweet and to prevent them from leaving upturned plugs all over your floor and stealing your car keys. Weird nut paste animals aside, Denmark wins again.
England – 2 Denmark – 1
The Scores so Far
Yesterday Denmark had the lead with 2 points to 0, but England's superior spread in this round leaves us with a much more even score of England - 2 Denmark - 3.
Tune in next time for dangerous trees and arguments about dates.