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How to Have a British Christmas Dinner

International students in Sheffield should be no strangers to Christmas dinner, right?Although the British people’s daily diet is casual and simple. But when it comes to the seriousness and meticulousness of preparing Christmas dinner, it is no less than the Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner.

Christmas dinner compared to Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner

For some reason, China is in the far east of Eurasia. But knowledge of British food is so scarce and one-sided. And Chinese food is so different from British food. Looking at British food with Chinese cooking, conceptualisation and aesthetic standards is not understandable and can easily lead to misunderstandings. For example, English breakfast, Sunday Lunch and Christmas Dinner are the most traditional British meals, with specific combinations and preparations. This diet is very different from the Chinese diet, which makes it difficult for Chinese people to enter the British dining culture.

A Christmas dinner/meal is a large meal. It can be done any way you like, Chinese, Thai, French, Mexican or any catering. But if it’s a British Christmas dinner, it means British catering. Or an enlarged version of ‘Sunday Roast’, with a few specific Christmas treats thrown in for good measure. Like fish is the finishing touch to a Chinese New Year meal.

What’s the first time I’ve been to a Christmas dinner?

The first time I had an English Christmas dinner was in 2004. Christmas is always a time for parties, and each school’s federation has its own Christmas events. In addition to that, students also organise Christmas parties of different sizes and forms, where students can take the opportunity to chat with their classmates or professors. We happened to be different, when our Sheffield student accommodation hard prepared Christmas parties for us and greeted us international students. However, I only remember the wrapping paper and Christmas decorations, but not the food. Why? Because the food was so different and unfamiliar from Chinese food. I couldn’t find a comparison in the only concept of Chinese food I had at that time. And it must not have tasted good, otherwise how could I have forgotten it?

christmas day dinner near me

Finally, train to appreciate and even cook your own Christmas dinner. It’s because of the family environment. Having eaten for fifteen years, have developed experience and a fondness for it. I have seen the English Christmas dinner made by mainland Chinese in my circle of friends. With all due respect, it feels like the eight characters are not even close to being there because of the lack of this and that.

pukka pies christmas dinner

Of course I can understand why there is a lack of this and that. Once upon a time, when I didn’t know anything about English food, the colourful, glazed, tallowed candlesticks stole the show at the Christmas dinner table on TV. It was all very colourful and decorative. The only food that left an impression was the huge roast turkey.

But just a roast chicken is all but insufficient for Christmas dinner. It’s the finishing touch, but it’s only 10 per cent of the meal. Although the British are more casual and simple than the Chinese, the preparation of Christmas dinner is as serious and meticulous as the Chinese New Year dinner.

Sunday Roast is the basic British Christmas dinner. That is to say, roast meat and its corresponding sauce, boiled/steamed vegetables, roast potatoes and parsnips (parsnips, which look like white radishes), gravy (gravy). For Chinese people, the difficulty in cooking is to control the heat and time of the oven.

Ingredients for Christmas dinner in the UK

The common ingredients for a British Christmas dinner (considered essential by some Brits) are: turkey, potatoes, vegetables. Especially Brussels sprouts, broccoli, carrots and parsnips, desserts – Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, mince pies. As well as ingredients that are difficult for Chinese people to understand, such as stuffing, gravy, pigs in blankets, redcurrant jelly.

How to prepare Christmas dinner

Every year, my mother-in-law goes to the supermarket a week in advance to buy a turkey crown, which usually weighs about 5-10kg. The turkey prepared in a way is somewhat similar to Chinese roast duck. The turkey is stuffed with stuffing, butter and garlic powder and wrapped in strips of bacon. After the oven has heated up for 15 minutes, the turkey is placed in the oven and is usually roasted for 4 hours or more.

The turkey is the first to cook. According to British culinary tradition, roasted meat must rest (“rest” for at least an hour) before eating. The Chinese saying “eat while it’s hot” doesn’t work here.

If you don’t like turkey and are willing to disobey tradition, it’s fine to replace it with chicken, goose, duck, beef or pork. Seafood has not become the national food in an island nation surrounded by sea fisheries on all sides. But the British didn’t even think it was worth discussing. Roasting several meats is a personal choice – in addition to turkey, my mother-in-law bought five kilos of Gammon, which is sliced after boiling and smells delicious! It’s a common ingredient for making sandwiches.

The way potatoes are at Christmas dinner, they must be baked. It cannot be chips, mashed potatoes or otherwise. Cubed, then boiled, strained, evenly buttered, salted and peppered, and baked in the oven until golden brown on the outside and fluffy and flavourful on the inside.

ingredients for a British Christmas dinner

I remember the student housing in Sheffield I was staying in was very well equipped and had plenty of ingredients.

The whole procedure for serving the complete meal staple is to place the roast turkey, roast potatoes, vegetables and all the other Christmas dinner delicacies into a heated dish, drizzle with gravy and add redcurrant jelly. It’s a complete Christmas dinner staple that Brits have been salivating over all year.

The English Christmas dinner is a delicious and hearty meal that carries the unique characteristics of British cooking. With a festive atmosphere, it is an indispensable meal to experience the British dining culture.

After Christmas and reminiscing, it’s like walking through 2023 all over again. basking in the highs again. It finally feels like it’s time to welcome 2024.

Memoirs I’ve read, feel free to click on my shares

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