Guilty Pleasures: Christmas treats from Greece (part 1)

19 Dec

1. Pork

 Pork casserole with quince and prunes. Photo source: tokouzinakitispareas.gr

Pork casserole with quince and prunes. Photo source: tokouzinakitispareas.gr

Pork is the Greek turkey; in most parts of Greece, pork is traditionally served on the Christmas table in various forms (most commonly roasted). My personal favourite is the slow-cooked pork casserole with quince and prunes. With the sour taste of the quince deliciously complementing the sweetness of the prunes, this sauce gives a whole new dimension to pork. An absolute must!

2. Pomegranate

 Pomegranate, goat cheese, greens and walnut salad. Photo source: sidagi.gr

Pomegranate, goat cheese, greens and walnut salad. Photo source: sidagi.gr

In the Greek tradition, pomegranates symbolize wealth, good luck and fertility. This is why Greeks crack a pomegranate in their house entrance every New Year’s Eve, and use it in various Christmas dishes. Our suggestion would be pomegranate, goat cheese, greens and walnut salad.

3. Cabbage Dolma (Lachanodolmas)

 Traditional Greek Christmas lachanodolma Photo source: k-mag.gr

Traditional Greek Christmas lachanodolma Photo source: k-mag.gr

This traditional dish is cabbage leaves stuffed with minced meat (beef & pork) and rice, covered with a deliciously rich egg & lemon sauce. It is said that lachonodolmas symbolizes baby Jesus in swaddling clothes, this is why it is traditionally served during Christmas.

4. Msoura

Msoura is a traditional Christmas meat trilogy from Thessaloniki; small pieces of pork, beef and chicken are slowly cooked in the oven and served with rice and vegetables.

5. Christopsomo

 Christopsomo traditional Greek Christmas bread loaf. Photo source

Christopsomo traditional Greek Christmas bread loaf. Photo source : mwsaiko.blogspot.com

Christopsomo in Greek means “Christ’s Bread” and it is an ornate bread loaf traditionally made by women at Christmas Eve and served along with other treats on the Christmas table. Although its ingredients are identical to those of your usual loaf of plain bread, its appearance is indeed very different: the dough is given a round or bagel shape and it is then decorated. Every decoration has its own symbolization; a capital B, cow or plough symbolize the traditional agricultural works, a house symbolizes a wish for good luck for the whole family, and vine leaves and olive leaves stand for the wish for a mild winter and warm summer.

6. Lalaggia

 Lalagia dough strips. Photo source: ethnos.gr

Lalagia dough strips. Photo source: ethnos.gr

Lalaggia are crispy fried dough strips usually served in Messinia. Depending on the region, they can either be sweet (seasoned with cinnamon and cloves) or savoury (plain or seasoned with star anise). Although they were initially a Christmas tradition, you can now find them all-year long in almost every Messinian bakery. Make sure you buy the large bag, because despite their looks, they are absolutely irresistible! Tip: Ask for the soft ones rather than the hard type.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, and, if you decide to spend holidays in Greece (which I highly recommend), strength and courage for your post-holiday diet & workouts 🙂

Stella Printezi

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