Pigs Feet and Lady’s Thighs: Christmas Foods from Around the World


From goat cookies to fried eel, traditional Christmastime foods from around the world might raise some eyebrows at your holiday feast. After reading about these dishes, let us know what your family will be eating this year.

Yule logs
The French Bûche de Noël is usually a cake shaped like a yule log, but cooks craving variety can opt to fashion a savory main-dish log. Layers of pureed, jellied vegetables or pâté frosted with lard are two of the alternatives.

Throughout much of Scandinavia, this boiled codfish soaked in lye is synonymous with Christmas. Don’t break out the good silver to serve it, though: It will permanently ruin the finish of sterling silver utensils.

Bibingka and puto bumbong
In the Philippines, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without this rice-flour pancake cooked with coconut milk and topped with cheese and salted duck eggs. Also popular is puto bumbong—purple sticky rice steamed inside a bamboo tube and served with sugar, butter and coconut.

While many Italian families opt for chicken or pasta on Christmas Eve, some enjoy a traditional dinner of female eels up to four feet long, purchased live and then roasted, baked, fried or steamed.

Goat cookies and pig feet
In Sweden, gingerbread cookies called pepparkakor may be shaped like hearts or stars, but also come in a festive goat shape. Dinner might consist of lutefisk or pickled pig’s feet, or a mixture of eggs and anchovies called gubbröra, meaning “old man’s mix.”

Swiss Christmas cookies come in interesting shapes with even more interesting names, from the orange-flavored Lackerli (little licks) to Biberli (little beavers), which are stuffed with ground almonds and lemon zest. Spitzbuebli (naughty boys) are sandwich cookies filled with jam, while Schenkeli (lady’s thighs) are crispy fried cookies shaped like a comely gam. If you pale at the thought of eating lady’s thighs, opt for the hazelnut bars called Totobeinli (dead legs).

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