So, the next country in our Christmas Around The World series is Greece. A festive season that lasts for 12 days – and includes Christmas, New Year and Epiphany – the food is just as fantastic as you might expect.
As with any holiday, comes tradition. One that’s important in many Greek households is the making of Christopsomo – or, Christ’s Bread. It’s made on Christmas Eve and decorated with a cross or an “x”, which is the first letter in the Greek word for Christ, and then the bread is eaten on Christmas Day, usually by the slice and drizzled in honey. Ingredients include anise seeds and orange zest, so it’s easy to imagine the festive flavour it possesses. For Christmas Day itself, the meat of choice is more often pork although there is no particular recipe that people tend to gravitate towards. Turkey, however, is increasing in popularity at Greek tables on Christmas Day. Before the main meal, starters of stuffed cabbage leaves (yiaprakia) and an egg-lemon chicken soup known as avgolemono are often present.
Where other treats are concerned, you’ll know when Christmas is approaching in Greece as these delicious little cookies called melomakarona start appearing in bakeries! Using spices such as orange, cloves and cinnamon, they are typically dipped in syrup and then sprinkled with nuts. On the island of Crete, you might come across kalitsounia kritis cheese pastries, and, on the seven-island group of Eptanisa, it’s common to find a rich walnut spice cake known as karythopita, which is soaked in a lightly spiced syrup.