While Christmas is all about coming together with family and friends, a large part of the celebration of course centers around food! Foods filled with sugar, spice, and all things nice fill our world for just a few short weeks, and it’s certainly the one time of the year when you’re expected to indulge yourself! Spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg grace our palate at this time of the year, but why have these spices become so synonymous with Christmas? Here at NetCost Market, we’re going to lift the lid on those traditional flavors you associate with the holiday season and hopefully give you some inspiration for some great festive foods to add to your Christmas table!
So, why exactly do we associate spices with Christmas?
The use of spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg in Christmas food originated in Medieval England, but none of these spices actually originate from England or even the rest of Europe for that matter! As traders ventured further and further around the globe, they discovered and brought back exotic spices which were usually only available to the rich English gentry due to their extortionate price. But, for that one special time of the year, everyone else would dig deep and pay out enough to buy some spices for their Christmas celebration. When America was discovered, the English brought this tradition with them and so it has stuck with us in the US ever since!
Which foods make great use of Christmas spices?
Although Christmas spices can be overpowering, when used correctly they can be an explosion of warm and delectable flavors that instantly bring on the nostalgia of the festive season. Here are some foods that we believe succeed in encompassing Christmas in a single mouthful!
Stollen – Stollen is a festive cake-like fruit bread that we associate with Germany and their famous Christmas markets. What you may not know is that Stollen was actually first made in Italy in 1545! It was soon adopted in Saxony, Germany as a festive bread, where they even to this day hold a yearly stollen festival in Dresden! The main spices used in stolen are cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, and nutmeg, making it a real Christmas Classic!
Gingerbread – This sweetened and spiced ginger cookie uses classic Christmas spices such as cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon to complement the great sweetened ginger flavor. Having been brought to Europe in 992 CE by Gregory of Nicopolis, it’s one of the oldest lasting traditional Christmas foods that are still popular today. Naturally, it came over with the early settlers to the American continent, and a good thing it did as it’s truly irresistible!
Christmas Punch – Punch was discovered by the employees of the British East India Company but has gone on to be a party tradition all over the world. Here in the US, we love a good old Christmas punch! Whether it’s served with alcohol or an assortment of juices, the use of Christmas spices gives this festive classic its distinctly spiced flavor. Ginger, cinnamon, and cloves all match perfectly with orange juice and berries, and for those that want a bit of a kick, rum is the liquor of choice!
The story of how Christmas came to taste like… well, Christmas is an intriguing one, and it reminds us of how this festival is celebrated all over the world. This year, why not try some of the Christmas classics like stollen, gingerbread, and Christmas punch to fill your senses with those classic Christmas spices! At NetCost Market, you’ll find classic Christmas foods from all over the world, so head down and indulge yourself!