Stories behind Christmas food

 

As we are full on Christmas vibes, I wanted to share with you some festive food stories and traditions.

Why we eat Turkey or Goose in Christmas?

The tradition of a roasted goose on the holiday table goes way, way back. The people of ancient Greece and Rome may have been celebrating different festivals, but they did so with the very same bird we do. From medieval days right through to the Victorian depiction in Charles Dickens, the goose has remained the ubiquitous Christmas bird throughout Europe.

Goose

The goose was a common farmyard bird and a natural forager that came in handy after the harvest. When turned loose in the stubble left from the reaper’s work, geese could find and devour all the scattered grain that would otherwise be lost. Thus, a goose was at its fattest (think tastiest) after the harvest, just in time for the coming holiday celebrations.
Geese were plentiful and cheaper than the exotic turkey (native to the New World) so made the best choice for the holiday table. Today you can join the tradition and enjoy this delectable bird at Christmas.

Turkeys where first bought into Britain in 1526, before that Goose was the traditional food. Turkeys were eating instead of the cows and chicken as they needed their cows more for their milk and the chicken for the eggs.
King Henry VIII was the first to eat Turkey on Christmas however it wasn’t until 1950’s that the turkey was a more popoular festive meal choice than the goose.
Nowadays 87% of the Brits believe that Christmas won’t be the same without a roasted turkey.

Christmas pudding 

Christmas pudding originated as a 14th century porridge called ‘frumenty’ that was made of beef and mutton with raisins, currants, prunes, wines and spices. This would often be more like soup and was eaten as a fasting meal in preparation for the Christmas festivities.
By 1595, frumenty was slowly changing into a plum pudding, having been thickened with eggs, breadcrumbs, dried fruit and given more flavor with the addition of beer and spirits. It became the customary Christmas dessert around 1650, but in 1664 the Puritans banned it as a bad custom.

Christmas Pudding

In 1714, King George I re-established it as part of the Christmas meal, having tasted and enjoyed Plum Pudding. By Victorian times, Christmas Puddings had changed into something similar to the ones that are eaten today.

Putting a silver coin in the pudding is another age-old custom that is said to bring luck to the person that finds it.

In the UK the coin traditionally used was a silver ‘six pence’. The closest coin to that now is a five pence piece!

Mince Pies

Were originally filled with meat, such as lamb, rather than the dried fruits and spices mix as they are today. They were also first made in an oval shape to represent the manger that Jesus slept in as a baby, with the top representing his swaddling clothes. Sometimes they even had a ‘pastry baby Jesus’ on the top!

Mince Pie

During the Stuart and Georgian times, in the UK, mince pies were a status symbol at Christmas. Very rich people liked to show off at their Christmas parties by having pies made is different shapes (like stars, crescents, hearts, tears, & flowers); they fancy shaped pies could often fit together a bit like a jigsaw! They also looked like the ‘knot gardens’ that were popular during those periods. Having pies like this meant you were rich and could afford to employ the best, and most expensive, pastry cooks.

A custom from the middle ages says that if you eat a mince pie on every day from Christmas to Twelfth Night (evening of the 5th January) you will have happiness for the next 12 months!

Marzipan & Turron

The origin of Marzipan is not clear being Germany, Spain, Italy and Hungary the main countries from which could come from.
This pastries are mainly eaten in Christmas but you can find them throughout the year.
Nowadays it is a strong tradition in many different countries like England and Germany.

Marzipan

 In Germany and throughout much of northern Europe it is considered good luck to receive a marzipan pig on Christmas or New Year’s Day. The Spanish and Portuguese are big consumers of marzipan too. But perhaps the form of marzipan that Americans are most familiar with are the cute little miniature fruit shapes that pop up all over.

 Turron is a southern European nougat confection, typically made of honeysugar, and egg white, with toasted almonds or other nuts, and usually shaped into either a rectangular tablet or a round cake. It is frequently consumed as a traditional Christmasdessert in Spain and Italy as well as countries formerly under the Spanish Empire, particularly in Latin America.

All versions of the name appear to have been derived from Latin torrere (to toast). The modern confection might be derived from the Muslim recipe prevalent in parts of Islamic Spain known as turun.[2] One may also point to a similar confection named cupedia or cupeto that was marketed in Ancient Rome and noted by Roman poets.[3][4]

Turrón or Torró has been known at least since the 15th century in the city of Jijona/Xixona (formerly Sexona), north of Alicante. Turrón is commonly consumed in most of Spain, some countries of Latin America, and in Roussillon (France). The similar Torrone is typical of Cremona and Benevento in Italy. There are similar confections made in the Philippines.

Roscón de Reyes

This is a very Spanish tradition extended to some countries of Latino America and south of France.
As a Spanish myself I lived this tradition since I was a kid.
Basically the night of 5th of January we believe that the 3 Kings “wise Man” will travel to all our houses and will leave gifts for all the kids. The roscon in eaten in the morning after opening all gifts as a breakfast paired with a hot chocolate.

The Roscon have a small figure hidden inside, either of a baby Jesus or little toys for children, as well as the more traditional dry fava bean. Whoever finds the figure is crowned “king” or “queen” of the celebration, whereas whoever finds the bean has to pay for the next year’s roscón or Epiphany party.

 

Eggnog & Mulled wine

While culinary historians debate its exact lineage, most agree eggnog originated from the early medieval Britain “posset,” a hot, milky, ale-like drink. By the 13th century, monks were known to drink a posset with eggs and figs. Milk, eggs, and sherry were foods of the wealthy, so eggnog was often used in toasts to prosperity and good health.

Eggnog became tied to the holidays when the drink hopped the pond in the 1700s. American colonies were full of farms—and chickens and cows—and cheaper rum, a soon-signature ingredient. Mexico adopted the very eggnog varietal “rompope,” and Puerto Rico enjoys the “coquito,” which adds coconut milk. The English name’s etymology however remains a mystery. Some say “nog” comes from “noggin,” meaning a wooden cup, or “grog,” a strong beer. By the late 18th century, the combined term “eggnog” stuck.

Mulled wine is a beverage usually made with red wine along with various mulling spices and sometimes raisins. It is served hot or warm and is alcoholic, although there are non-alcoholic versions of mulled wine.
Glühwein (roughly translated as “glowing-wine”, from the temperature the wine is heated to) is popular in German-speaking countries and in the region of Alsace in France. It is a traditional beverage offered during the Christmas holidays. In Alsace Christmas markets, it is traditionally the only alcoholic beverage served. The oldest documented Glühwein tankard is attributed to Count John IV of Katzenelnbogen, a German nobleman who was the first grower of Riesling grapes. This gold-plated lockable silver tankard is dated to c. 1420.

Panettone & Stollen

In the early 20th century, two enterprising Milanese bakers began to produce panettone in large quantities in the rest of Italy. In 1919, Angelo Motta started producing his eponymous brand of cakes. It was also Motta who revolutionised the traditional panettone by giving it its tall domed shape by making the dough rise three times, for almost 20 hours, before cooking, giving it its now-familiar light texture. The recipe was adapted shortly after by another baker, Gioacchino Alemagna, around 1925, who also gave his name to a popular brand that still exists today. The stiff competition between the two that then ensued led to industrial production of the cake. Nestlé took over the brands together in the late 1990s, but Bauli, an Italian bakery company based in Verona, has acquired Motta and Alemagna from Nestlé.[

Panettone

By the end of World War II, panettone was cheap enough for anyone and soon became the country’s leading Christmas sweet. Lombard immigrants to ArgentinaUruguayMexicoVenezuela and Brazil also brought their love of panettone, and panettone is enjoyed for Christmas with hot cocoa or liquor during the holiday season, which became a mainstream tradition in those countries. In some places, it replaces the King cake.

As a Christmas bread stollen was baked for the first time at the Council of Trent in 1545,[8] and was made with flour, yeast, oil and water.

The Advent season was a time of fasting, and bakers were not allowed to use butter, only oil, and the cake was tasteless and hard.[ In the 15th century, in medieval Saxony (in central Germany, north of Bavaria and south of Brandenburg), the Prince Elector Ernst (1441–1486) and his brother Duke Albrecht (1443–1500) decided to remedy this by writing to the Pope in Rome. The Saxon bakers needed to use butter, as oil in Saxony was expensive, hard to come by, and had to be made from turnips.

Pope Nicholas V (1397–1455), in 1450 denied the first appeal. Five popes died before finally, Pope Innocent VIII, (1432–1492)[ in 1490 sent a letter to the Prince, known as the “Butter-Letter” which granted the use of butter (without having to pay a fine), but only for the Prince-Elector and his family and household.

Others were also permitted to use butter, but on the condition of having to pay annually 1/20th of a gold Gulden to support the building of the Freiberg Minster. The ban on butter was removed when Saxony became Protestant.

Over the centuries, the bread changed from being a simple, fairly tasteless “bread” to a sweeter bread with richer ingredients, such as marzipan, although traditional Stollen is not as sweet, light and airy as the copies made around the world.

I hope you enjoyed the article and If you are looking for a place to buy all the Christmas pastries, goodies, turkey and Goose in Dubai, I highly recommend Brothaus Bakery Bistro.
It’s a German Bistro located at Steigenberger Hotel Dubai that makes amazing freshly baked items!

Street Art – Inspiring Happiness

THE ORIGIN OF STREET ART

Slogans of protest and political or social commentary graffitied onto public walls are the precursor to modern graffiti and street art, and continue as one aspect of the genre. Street art in the form of text or simple iconic graphics in the vein of corporate icons become well-known yet enigmatic symbols of an area or an era.

Some credit the Kilroy Was Here graffiti of the World War II era as one such early example; a simple line-drawing of a long-nosed man peering from behind a ledge.  “Kilroy” graffiti was described as “outrageous not for what it said, but where it turned up”.
Much of what can now be defined as modern street art has well-documented origins dating from New York City‘s graffiti boom, with its infancy in the 1960s, maturation in the 1970s, and peaking with the spray-painted full-car subway train murals of the 1980s centered in the Bronx.

As the 1980s progressed, a shift occurred from text-based works of early in the decade to visually conceptual street art such as Hambleton‘s shadow figures. This period coincides with Keith Haring‘s subway advertisement subversions and Jean-Michel Basquiat‘s SAMO tags.

What is now recognized as “street art” had yet to become a realistic career consideration, and offshoots such as stencil graffiti were in their infancy. Wheatpasted poster art used to promote bands and the clubs where they performed evolved into actual artwork or copy-art and became a common sight during the 1980s in cities worldwide.

Punk rock music’s subversive ideologies were also instrumental to street art’s evolution as an art form during the 1980s. Some of the anti-museum mentality can be attributed to the ideology of Marinetti who in 1909 wrote the “Manifesto of Futurism. Many street artists claim we do not live in a museum so art should be in public places with no tickets.

STREET ART IN DUBAI

Dubai’s started with street art around 2013 – 2016, but it was in 2017 when Dubai Government started a movement where varied and vast public spaces were provided to national and international artists.
There is fabulous locations that you can find from north to south in key spaces.

You can see more information here.

There is multiple fairs and initiatives happening in Dubai every year specially during winter months when the weather is good.

Dubai Canvas is one of the famous and expected 3D street art fair, that happens in different areas of the city every year.
People can enjoy real pieces of art made from the best artists in the world.

In recent years, Dubai has become a hotbed of fantastic street art, with wow-worthy walls from JBR to Satwa. And now Dubai Metro is next in line to get a splash of colour.
The Dubai Metro Murals Project will see two top international street artists transform some of the pillars of the Dubai Metro into masterpieces. The pillars that will be painted are on Sheikh Zayed Road, between Financial Centre and Emirates Towers stations.

According to Brand Dubai, which is behind the project, the themes of the murals have been chosen to “inspire creativity and spread happiness while also reflecting Dubai’s character, vision and future aspirations”.

Peruvian muralist Daniel Cortez, also known as Decertor, is one of the artists who has been chosen for the project. His colourful human portraits can be found on walls in Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina and Morocco.

Dominican-born, Miami-based artist Elio Mercado, known as Evoca1, will also contribute to the project. You might have already seen his work at Al Raha Beach in Abu Dhabi.

The Dubai Metro Murals Project is part of a beautification initiative that aims to transform Dubai into an “open-air museum”. Other beautification projects that will take place over the next three years will cover bridges, tunnels, walking tracks, bus stops and other public facilities and areas.

Brand Dubai said artists from the UAE, the Middle East and around the world would be invited to create public artworks in the city.
Credit to What’s On

I can’t wait to see the new creations!

I see Street Art as a way of expression, as a way to create feelings and memories.

What do you think about Street Art?

I leave here a great reportage of Barcelona Street Art!

Korean food – simply good.

I can say that I started discovering Korean food only 2 years ago, but since then it’s been a MUST to eat it at least once a month!

I would like to introduce you to this exciting cuisine and recommend you some Korean places in Dubai as well as my favourite dishes!

Korean food

WHAT IS KOREAN FOOD?

Korean food is some of the healthiest on earth, with an emphasis on vegetables, meats simply cooked and without much oil, and a “near-obsession” with the fermented vegetable kimchi, which can be a strange taste for non-Koreans.

Starting with ritual bowls of rice and soup, the main meal is built around numerous shared side dishes selected to complement each other. The number of side dishes may vary from two to a dozen or more but everyday meals will include at least a few. All dishes are served at once to share, rather than in courses.

Another cornerstone of Korean food is rice, which forms the backbone of almost every meal, although is sometimes replaced with noodles.

The Koreans have perfected the art of preserving food, so many side dishes are picked, fermented or salted and many are as well spicy.
Kimchi, Korea’s famous spicy cabbage, which has over a hundred varieties using different vegetables, is a constant of every meal. It is adored for its sour tangy crunch as well as being a digestive aid.

Other popular spices and sauces include: sesame and sesame oil, chilli pepper paste (kochujang), soybean paste (daenjang), garlic, ginger and chilli pepper flakes. Korean food tends to be intensely flavoured, spicy and pungent.

Traditional restaurants often feature charcoal grills in the middle of the table – a type of indoor barbecue. Paper-thin slices of marinated meat (bulgogi – literally “fire meat”) or beef ribs (kalbi) are grilled, cut into pieces, and wrapped in lettuce leaves with garlic, chilli and soybean paste. They’re eaten in one bite as it’s considered the height of rudeness to bite into a lettuce parcel.

Koreans also place great importance on the role of food as medicine, using exotic ingredients such as dried persimmon, red dates (jujube), pine seeds, chestnut, gingko, tangerine and ginseng in their cooking and also in specially brewed teas. **

MY TOP 5 KOREAN DISHES 

Japchae (sweet potato noodles)Japchae

This classic Korean noodle dish combines translucent sweet potato noodles with lots of stir-fried vegetables and a sweet-savory sauce. I normally order it with beef!

It’s light, flavourful and just perfect!

 

 

Kimchi Stewkimchi

Made with kimchi and other ingredients, such as scallions, onions, diced tofu, pork, and seafood. (Pork and seafood are generally not used in the same recipe.) It is one of the most common jjigae in Korea.

Like many other Korean dishes, kimchi jjigae is usually eaten communally from the center of the table if more than two people are served. It is accompanied by banchan (side dishes) and rice. It is usually cooked and served boiling hot in a stone pot.

bibiBibimbap (rice, vegetables & beef)

A delicious mix of rice, beef and vegetables cooked with garlic and sesame oil, topped with an egg yolk and gochujang (Korean chilli paste).

The ingredients are cooked individually then beautifully arranged in a stone bowl called a dolsot, which is heated until the rice turns golden and crispy on the bottom. You mix everything together when you eat it.

Buchimgae (seafood pancake)pank

Known as a pancake, refers broadly to any type of pan-fried ingredients soaked in egg or a batter mixed with other ingredients.

More specifically, it is a dish made by pan-frying a thick batter mixed with egg and other ingredients until a thin flat pancake is formed. You will always find the seafood pancake with small prawns and scallions.

MY TOP KOREAN RESTAURANT IN DUBAI

Mannaland
It’s a very casual and old style Korean restaurant located in Karama.
The place is run by an old Korean woman that you normally will find seating at the entrance and managing the show!

The staff is very friendly, fast and efficient.
You can seat in the typical floor tables or normal dinning tables.

The best is the food and the price.
They start with the typical small sharing dishes (my favourite is the kimchi tofu) and very fast they bring all the food. I always go for the dishes I mentioned before, but everything looks very good!

Check out as well the Tripadvisor listing: Korean restaurants in Dubai.

Zomato listing here

And one more article in What’s On.

THANK YOU!

thanku

**Credits here 

Understanding the Emirati culture at SMCCU

We recently finished Eid Al Adha*, which is a big celebration for muslims.

*”Also called the “Festival of Sacrifice“, is the second of two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year (the other being Eid al-Fitr), and considered the holier of the two. It honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God’s command. But, before Ibraham could sacrifice his son, God provided a lamb to sacrifice instead. In commemoration of this, an animal is sacrificed and divided into three parts: one third of the share is given to the poor and needy; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the remaining third is retained by the family.”

Understanding the festivities of muslim people brings you to understand they culture.
I had the opportunity to visit and have an Emirati lunch at Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding SMCCU .

The beautiful place is located in one of my favourite areas, Al Fahidi neighbourhood in Bur Dubai. The whole area is a recreation of an old Emirati village by the Creek. But this little museum bring you to the heart of the old Emirati houses.

We started the journey inside the house in the majilis or gathering space where we were all seating in the floor, as they normally do when they gather with the family and friends.

Ms. Fathayah, a young and lovely Emirati woman walked us through the secrets of the Emirati culture starting with the coffee traditions.

It’s a lovely Arabic custom, sitting with friends and family in the evening, and over several tiny cups of steaming coffee poured from a dallah,  discussing the day’s events. It is a custom that has, for several centuries, enabled conversations within a community, with family and people from the neighbourhood. Traditionally, and even today, it’s a sign of enduring Arabic hospitality, to invite people to come sit and chat, possibly munch on dates, and have a cup or two – no one’s counting. That’s the beauty of sitting in the majlis and sipping gahwa. It’s kept Emiratis together.

Cardamom, cumin, cloves, saffron are also added to add another dimension to the already exquisite taste of fresh coffee. After preparing the coffee, it is served in small cups to the guests. The person serving the coffee to the guests or family members (muqahwi) must be a mature one, at least 15 years and above and not a child so he’s able to speak well with the guests and not risk spilling coffee onto the clothes of guests as he serves them. “The muqahwi should hold the dallah in his left hand and about three small cups with no handle on the right,” he said.

“He should serve the coffee starting from the person sitting on the right of the majlis and should not skip anyone. If there is a very important person in the majlis, like a Sheikh or a religious scholar, he should be served first. The muqahwi should then serve others starting with the person on his right.” After drinking, the guest gently shakes the small cup to show the muqahwi that he’s done. The muqahwi always remains standing until all guests have finished drinking the coffee. And it is prohibited to serve coffee while people are eating food. (More)

She explained us about the Emirati clothing.

Man wears Kandura, a long white cloak. The color of the garment originates from Bedouin culture, as it is perfect to reflect the sun’s rays. Browns and grays are also worn more in the winter months. It is common for Emirati men to own over 50 Kanduras and to change them throughout the day, in order to keep their look crease-free and fresh.

Men also wear the Guthra, a headscarf. The most common colors are white or white and red checks. The Guthra is also an item originating in Bedouin culture, as it protected men against the sand of the desert. The Guthra can be worn in different ways to indicate status and importance.

Women in the UAE traditionally wear the Abaya. This is a long flowing black gown and can be plain or decorated with impressive designs. It is worn as a sign of modesty. However, it’s common for women to wear completely Western outfits under their Abayas.

Women also wear a headscarf called the Shela, to cover their hair. This is normally black and made of very light material. Many women opt for designer scarves, such as Givenchy or Dior, which can even be matched to their handbags. For more traditional women, the Gishwa is an option. This black veil covers the entire face; it is thin enough to see out of, although nobody can see their faces. A third option is the Burqa, which only shows the eyes. Together these women’s garments are known as the Hijab, which essentially means head covering.

While taking with Fathayah we starting eating the traditional #food !
By the way she is very open, and you can ask her anything (curiosity) that you have

Emiratis, as most of the muslims eat seated in the floor and with the right hand.
We had some delicious food:

Chicken biryani: lavoured rice with lot of meat or egg or vegetables. The main ingredients of biryani are rice, spices, herbs, vegetables and non vegetarian products.

Veal Machboos: is a very popular dish cooked in a large pot. It consists of rice, onions and meat, seasoned with spices, salt and dried lemon. This dish is prepared by cooking meat, spices, dried lemon, and seasonings in boiling water until they are very tender. The meat is taken out and the rice is added to the rest of the ingredients and cooked together.

Vegetable OR chicken salona  it’s a slow cooked stew, mixed with a lot of vegetables and spices. In that case was vegetarian but chicken is as well very popular.

Lugaimat: (I think I was waiting the whole day only to eat Lugaimat!) Crunchy on the outside, soft and airy in the middle, luqaimat are often dipped in date syrup and served garnished with sesame seeds. An Arabic word that literally means ‘bite-sized’, it is a traditional dessert popular amongst ancient Bedouins for its ease of preparation; the luqaimat is a firm favourite at Iftar experiences during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

We spoke about history, about traditions, about the importance of their leaders and how the system works in United Arab Emirates.

Was a lovely morning that brought me near to the culture of the country that I call home for the last 4 years and of which I’m so grateful and happy to be!

We could as well try their traditional cloths, here I share with you a nice picture of me with Abaya and Shela!
I highly recommend you to visit the center and walk through the old Dubai.

World Art Dubai 2018

Bringing Affordable Art to The Middle East

The stage for the fourth edition of World Art Dubai has been set as the fair expands and grows, underlining the message that there is growing demand for affordable, contemporary art in the Middle East.

Spanning across 6,000 sqm of inspiring exhibition space, the fourth edition included new segments like photography and digital art, as well as dedicated spaces for galleries, solo artists and groups representing a display of art & culture from all over the world.

Part of Dubai’s Official Art Season, the fair took place from 18–21 April at Dubai World Trade Centre and showcases an impressive global collection of contemporary paintings, prints, sculptures, photographs and mixedmedia ranging from $100 to $20,000.

I visited the fair on the last day and great that I did it because there was a lot of talented artists! I found amazing pieces that really inspired and transported me to other dimensions.

Here I’m sharing with you some of them:

Art as a multi sensory experience by Alex Raspberry and Silent Revolution Mia.

Alex Raspberry is painter from Miami but based in Dubai that plays with geometrical forms and abstract designs creating a very unique style.

He mixed his paints with the music of the Miami Music Curator DJ Mikel, owner of the Silent Revolution.

Was a space where you could experience Art through different senses.
The paintings were inspired by the music and viceversa creating 3 different walls.
I had to put a headphones and listen to the music designed for each piece while enjoying the paintings that were changing as there was a game of lights and colours.

The music made me disappear from where I was to get into the paints and enjoy the moment. It was an amazing experience, a great new way to enjoy art.


 Design by Mariska. Turning waste into something beautiful.

This great artist turns waste into Art, creating beautiful lamps and paints.
She Recently started a campaign to fight against the plastic so she was wearing for 30 consecutive days a jacket made by plastic waste.

I actually saw her in D3 couple of weeks before and I was so happy to see her again and understand what is she really doing.

Thanks for being part of the consciousness of recycling and being social responsible.


There was an impressive woman that was only painting woman faces, but all of them were very strong and powerful.Here I’m sharing my favourite piece that was as well nominated.


There was as well a lot of workshops, and Ripe Market has a spot outside the center where you could buy hand craft products and have a little bite in the food trucks.Overall the ambience was really nice, mixed culture of Artists from around the world and great live music.If you missed it… put it in your To Do List for 2019!To finish with this post I share some other beautiful pieces I saw in the exhibition.