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Christmas Eve Traditional Food

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My parents, after having German tenants for several years, adopted some of those traditions for Christmas Eve dishes. My mother, being from a family that came from Sweden to Duluth (I know, what's the point of moving from Sweden to "Sweden"?), had a number of Swedish dishes already on the menu.

One thing in particular that I haven't seen mentioned anywhere here on Chowhound, is a wonderful potato salad with pickled herring and dry salami that was introduced by our German friends. There was also something called "karvedunce", a dish along the lines of pate en gelee.
I think it must have been "kalve" or calf/veal.

Cookies were also a big part of that meal. My mother made fatigman (sp?) which were fat men - dough cut in a shape and deep fried, then dusted with powdered sugar. She also made pecan balls, the most delicious cookies I've ever eaten. I'm sure they were 1/2 butter.

We've heard of the Italian loads of fish tradition on this board, how about some others?

Also, if anybody has heard of or knows a recipe for that potato salad, I'd love to have it.

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  1. Do you think the "karvedunce" was Swedish? I'll check out my cookbooks. I lived in both Sweden and Germany as a young child, and cherish those memories - food and otherwise. I loved the saffron buns on Santa Lucia day in Sweden. I don't have a German cookbook, but will also check the Swedish ones for that potato salad.

    1. Fattig is Swedish for poor, so "en fattig man" is a poor man. Kalvrullad, rolled boneless calf breast with cumin seeds is traditional, as is julskinka, Christmas ham, juniper smoked in Southern Sweden and the best I've ever tasted.

      1. We have done the Feast Of Seven Fishes (an Italian Christmas Eve tradition), and my sister tells me that in Mexico, tamales are traditional on Christmas Eve.

        1. The French celebrate "Reveillon" Christmas Eve dinner after Midnight Mass.

          The traditional foods, eaten by almost all French people are Smoked Salmon, Caviar and , Foie Gras and Champagne. Boudin Blanc aux Deux Pommes. Pommes, apples, sauteed, and Pommes de Terre, potatoes, sauteed, along with the sauteed Boudin.

          Champagne and hor''s d'oeuvres and Fruits Faci or Deguisee are served before going to Midnight Mass.

          Aristocrats, bourgeois, and workers eat the same thing. They only thing that varies is the quality and quantity.

          Dessert is Buche de Noel

          1 Reply
          1. re: Fleur

            Aha. My husband and I appear to have independently replicated part of this tradition -- at least the champagne and caviar part. We have an elaborate multi-course meal for two (we take turns cooking; it's his turn this year) but it always starts with champagne and caviar.

          2. Here's a similar potato salad recipe (sans salami but that's easy enough to add):

            1. My friend who's British but has lived in Austria for many years says it's traditional to have carp or pike on Xmas Eve. I can't say it appeals much to be honest.....

              1. The traditional Filipino Noche Buena juxtaposes traditional Spanish flavors with tropical island desserts. Upon exiting midnight Mass, families will encounter rows of Christmas vendors, each hawking exotic sweets for the Noche Buena table, particularly puto bumbong, a brilliantly-hued purple rice cake baked in bamboo and served with muscovado and grated coconut; ensaimada or brioche rolls topped with lightly whipped butter, sugar and cheese; or bibingka, a coconut and rice cake wrapped and roasted in banana leaves, straddling the line between salty and sweet with lashings of butter and generous mounds of grated coconut, white cheese and/or salted duck eggs.

                Upon returning home, arms filled with dessert, the mains are heated to break fast. The traditional entrees usually figure pork, either a Christmas ham or roast pork (lechon) which is paired with Edam cheese (called "queso de bola" in Tagalog) and freshly made rolls called pan de sal, all eaten with rice. Some starch fiends also serve a noodle dish, either the traditional pancit or the more modern option of spaghetti. In accordance with Christmas excess, beverages tend also towards the carb-y side: salabat (ginger tea) or tsokolate, thick and dark hot chocolate made from chocolate tablets and whipped into an ethereal foam top by a strong-willed cook armed with a batidor.