Christmas can be a sentimental holiday for most. It’s the day we celebrate the joy of Santa’s big day with family, and even some aunties and uncles you don’t really like, whilst crazy kids high on sugar scream bloody murder. Such joy!
Hong Kong gooey
Growing up in Hong Kong, Christmas was always fun because we were off from school! It was never a family thing – more like a time for gathering with friends for food and to exchange presents.
Even though we were under British rule for such a long time, we had more influence from the USA, with extravagant Christmas light decorations on the skyscrapers that looked like ginormous Christmas cards.
All hotels would hold Christmas buffets, and man how Hongkongers love buffets! Turkey and honey-glazed ham would be the main characters on the table.
Like that certain song
Food is just like music: when you hear a certain song, it will take you back to a certain time and bring up all different kinds of memories. It’s like how the Danes go nuts when you play Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ at every house party!
Well, even if one is not homesick, certain kinds of food do remind us of the feeling of being in our hometown, and Christmas-time reminds most people of being with their loved ones.
Being expats, we do try to make wherever we stay our home away from home. So, how do we cope with being homesick with food during the holiday season?
American pie and the rest
Most Americans are quite frustrated that they can’t get whole turkeys here. Turkey is not that commonly served at Danish dinner tables, besides some cold cuts in small packages.
Most British and American people admit to only eating turkey because it’s a festive thing, as often it comes out dry and tasteless.
So I was quite amazed how the Midwestern Diner (see factbox) made it tender and moist using both the white and dark meat of the turkey, and the gravy … I could have drunk every drop, even though I’d had a whole bowl of roasted cauliflower soup as a starter.
Ending the meal with the pecan pie was very comforting. OH! And I finally tried eggnog!! Now I wonder why there aren’t eggnog fountains like you see in the movies … yep! I can just keep drinking that thing!
Italy’s festive winner
Clearly the pecan pie activated my sweet tooth because days later I found myself craving ‘Panettone’ – that big round cake in a box!
No-one can make anything into a bigger fuss than the Italians, right? The passion of having a Panettone at Christmas time is like the Americans with Black Friday sales.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of dried fruit cake, Mi scusi … but then I found out La Trinacria – Taste of Sicily (see factbox) does it with chocolate as well!! And with PISTACHIO cream as a topping or filled inside!
Brazilian stomach samba
In one week I visited expats from the USA, Italy and … last stop … Brazil! Somehow, I’d made a connection on Instagram with an account called Baked by Cris, whose owner relocated to Denmark from Brazil with her husband, Julio, three years ago.
Like many of us, hers is a familiar story: she started to cook more when she left her home country to recreate the food she missed, and then she started a baking business.
Cris is an architect, but when she talked about baking her eyes went starry and bright, with a genuine smile across her face.
She was so sweet she offered me food whenever I like, although she might just regret it, as I live literally five minutes away.
Sam and Lulie, a lovely American couple, own the Midwestern Diner at Kultorvet – an old school American eatery serving old favourites to Copenhagen.
They serve everything from hash browns and milkshakes, to pancakes and the pie of the season. And, of course, they have a Christmas menu with turkey and gravy as the main course!
They have a little kids area and the upstairs is very spacious. I can totally see company Christmas parties being held there and having an awesome time.
They are closing on the 19th for the Christmas holidays, so go grab that turkey before it’s too late!
La Trinacria – Taste of Sicily
Located at Hyskenstræde 14 in Copenhagen city centre, La Trinacria – Taste of Sicily is a tiny Italian cafe run by Rina, a true ‘one woman band’.
Rina, who is half-Italian and half-Ethiopian, has brought everything Sicilian to this petite cafe. Accordingly, goodies from the island line the walls!
Around Christmas time she serves up a Panettone with pistachio cream all the way from Sicily!
Enjoy a big piece of it with a warm cup of coffee, whilst covering yourself with blankets in the cosy little backyard, for just 60 kroner.
Perfect if you fancy just a slice, instead of having to buy a whole Panettone.
Baked by Cris on Instagram
In her lovely home Chris served me food like she was back home in Brazil.
I was expecting a meat stew with beans because that’s what my Brazilian friends usually invite me for, so it came as a surprise that she also made Panettone – a must-have in Brazil at Christmas due to the European influence.
Comparing Cris’s Brazilian panettone to the Italian one I tried, the Italian one was more cake-based, and the Brazilian one more sweet with a bread-like texture.
It reminded me a lot of the fluffy sweet buns sold by Hong Kong bakeries, so yeah, it reminded me of ‘home’!
So how do you cope with being homesick with food at Christmas time?
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