Honey is used in these Christmas Food Traditions Around Greece
- Diples (fried strips of dough drizzled in honey and cinnamon)
- Loukoumades (fried dough balls drizzled in honey)
- Kourabiedes, Kaltsounia and Xerotygana (thin dough rolled into a rose-like spiral, deeply fried and drizzled in honey and nuts)
- Sweet Pies with walnuts and honey
Turkey has managed to find its way to the Greek Christmas table, but the bird, prevalent mainly in the US and UK, is a relative newcomer- indeed, according to age-old Greek traditions, the festive feast is based on pork.
Christmas food traditions around Greece
In Macedonia, they make dolmades using pickled cabbage, with the cabbage symbolising the blanket that baby Jesus was swaddled in. Also, pork is usually served with quince and prunes (see the recipe below).
In Thrace, the pork intestine is stuffed with liver, herbs and spices and slow-cooked overnight, to be served warm the following morning after the Christmas Day Holy Communion.
In Epirus, milk pie (galatopita), meat pie and wild boar are favoured for the main course and baklavas for dessert.
In the Peloponnese, they roast piglet in the oven, or meat pie or a Christmas kouloura as mains and diples (fried strips of dough drizzled in honey and cinnamon) or loukoumades (fried dough balls drizzled in honey) for dessert.
In the Ionian Islands, pork is cooked with cauliflower or cabbage, or rooster is used to make a rich pasta sauce.
In the Eastern Aegean Islands, dolmadakia (meat and rice rolled in vine leaves) is a staple dish, as is pork cooked in a lemon sauce, chicken soup or fish. On Christmas Eve, they make sweet pies with walnuts and honey.
Chicken or cockerel is famous in the Cycladic Islands at Christmas, and pork is eaten on New Year’s Day.
A cockerel is traditionally stuffed and cooked with tomato sauce (kokkinistos). The preferred sweets there are kourabiedes, kaltsounia and xerotygana (thin dough rolled into a rose-like spiral, deeply fried and drizzled in honey and nuts), representing abundance.
In Crete, various pig parts are cooked on the grill or baked, and other parts are used to make sausages, stuffed intestines and pies. Apakia (marinated, smoked lean pork meat) and tsigarides (an appetizer made from fried pork fat) are also among the most popular Christmas dishes.
Almond cookies (amygdalota) and diples are famous around the islands (especially the Cyclades), accompanied by nectar-like Greek wine and plenty of kefi!
Pork with quinces and plums
Inspired by Macedonian tradition
Ingredients for 4-6 persons →
- 1 kilo of pork fillet
- Two big quinces
- Three onions
- Two glasses of water
- Eight seedless plums
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 3-6 cloves
- One stick of cinnamon
- black pepper
- Cut the meat into portions, wash and drain it.
- Finely chop the onions and gently sauté them in the olive oil for 10 minutes, along with the meat, until a crust is formed.
- Remove the seeds from the quinces, peel them and cut them into vertical slices.
- Put into a clay pot the meat with the onions and around it the quinces and plums, putting 1-2 cloves in each piece of meat. Then, we add the salt, pepper and cinnamon.
- Pour water that barely covers the ingredients and cook at 180°C for 40 minutes until there is only a little juice.
Recipe by Stella Spanou