As small children we can’t wait for our Christmas gifts and the selection boxes and tins of chocolates that were only seen around this time of year. As we get older, however, we come to look forward more to the traditions and special foods that we only have at this time of year and that get us into the Christmas spirit. Here we present an overview of the seasonal specialities to be enjoyed in Spain.
Christmas Eve or La Noche Buena
Like many Catholic countries, Spain celebrates on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day, with the main feast usually held in the late evening of 24th December. The privileged classes of yesteryear would have enjoyed pavo trufado, or turkey stuffed with truffles as their main course. These days this dish is less likely to be seen, however, the emphasis is definitely on indulgent feasting, with delicacies such as lobster, langostines, lamb or suckling pig often being the star attraction. Seafood soup, many types of cheese and cured hams will also play a part in this great banquet. Often not starting until as late as 22.00hrs, this meal can continue late into the night. Many people will also attend Midnight Mass, less popular than it was, but still quite an important part of many family celebrations.
By far the most popular sweet treats to enjoy over the holiday season are polverones and mantecados. A type of crumbly Spanish shortbread made with flour, sugar, milk and almonds, these are usually presented as individually wrapped biscuits. Polverones are known as such due to the dusting of icing sugar with which they are covered – polvo meaning dust in Spanish. Mantecados are made from manteca (lard), but are delicious nonetheless! If you are offered a rosquillo de vino, make sure it is accompanied by a glass of red wine, as these aniseed biscuits are made for dipping! Turrón nougat is also a favourite, with Turrón de Alicante a type of hard nougat filled with almonds not unlike nut brittle. Turrón de Jijona meanwhile is a softer version and kinder on the teeth!
This is just a small taste of the Spanish specialities you definitely need to try when in Marbella this holiday season!