In Australia, where I grew up, Christmas can be a rather different affair than in the Northern Hemisphere, mainly because it’s sunny. Who wants to eat roast turkey with all the trimmings when it’s anywhere from 70 to 100 degrees outside? Some people are suckers for tradition and do it anyway, but not our family.
Our Christmas “lunches” start around 2pm with summery canapés, such as sushi, oysters, prawns and salt and pepper squid. The actual lunch is served early evening and usually involves a whole fish, barbecued or roasted, served with various sauces and plenty of salads and vegetables. The emphasis is always on seafood because that is what we like to eat when it’s hot.
It seems that it is not just people “down under” who are interested in alternative menus and recipes for Christmas day. I have been looking online and have found a number of posts and articles covering this subject. What’s more, there seem to be a number of reasons why people in both hemispheres are keen to find alternative menus for Christmas.
The most obvious reason you might be looking for an alternative is if you’re vegan or vegetarian. Fortunately there are a quite a few bloggers out there dealing with this. I found The Vegetarian Experience the most helpful, with ideas for starters, links to recipes for mains and things to remember when cooking for vegetarians. For vegans there are some tips on Cooking for Vegans and some recipes on Vegan Family and Gluten Free Goddess. Outside the blogosphere, The Vegetarian Society, Vegetarian Recipe Club and some animal rights charities, such as Animal Aid, offer good suggestions.
In London, the charity, Food Cycle, has teamed together with chef, Tom Hunt, to offer an alternative Christmas banquet at the Brunel Museum on the banks of the Thames. Guests can choose between the Feast of 7 Fishes, sourcing fish that are often neglected or not usually seen on British menus, or an Italian Vegetarian Banquet, made from wild foods and misshapen vegetables which would not usually make it to a supermarket shelf.
Some of you may be looking for healthy alternatives. Food bloggers don’t appear to be particularly concerned about their waistlines (surprise, surprise), but there are a number of health-related sites that deal with this. Weight Loss Resources has a number of low-fat recipes for the Christmas season, though you need to sign up for a free trial to access most of them. Otherwise, healthy eating magazines, such as Eating Well and Cooking Light, and general health magazines, such as Zest, Health and Best Health, are a great resource for healthy Christmas
recipes and you don’t have to sign up to anything to use them.
The rest of you may just be bored with eating the same thing each year. I generally prefer chicken to turkey, so I might choose the roast Cornish hen with marmalade and whisky sauce from The English Kitchen’s alternative Christmas menu. Cook sister’s roast duck with pancetta and potatoes is tempting too. I like the idea of using cranberries and pecans in Lay the Table’s alternative mince pies, though the plug for the Kenwood food processor is off putting.
And don't forget, your ‘go to’ sites have some suggestions too.
To read more from this contributor, visit Victoria's Blog: www.onedishcloser.com.