Friday, January 1, 2010

Christmas Eve dinner

Even though initially I had been very excited about going for Christmas to the mountains, the moment came that I felt sad about not being in my family home for Christmas Eve dinner. My family has very strong Christmas traditions that I appreciate a lot and which I would like to preserve for my own family as well for many years to come. For example we all dress up in our best clothes for the Christmas Eve dinner and also wear elegant clothes during next two Christmas days, even if we would not be leaving the house during that time at all. Also during these two and a half days we spend 100% of time together and if somebody would like to do something on their own, he/she has to ask for a permission to the rest of the family. In this busy world that we live in, there are very few moments that we can complete dedicate to our families, and that's why I appreciate Christmas as a family holiday so much.

This feeling of temporal sadness disappeared from my heart as soon as a traditional band from the mountains entered the restaurant where we were having our Christmas Eve dinner and started playing and singing Christmas carols. Actually, it felt really wonderful to be sharing this moment with random strangers. Especially that the whole room was singing the carols together.

"Gorale" band:

The Christmas Eve dinner in Poland always starts with sharing the Christmas wafer and exchanging wishes:

After that twelve-course dinner follows. Dishes change from one region in Poland to the other one, but almost always you get dried fruit compote and herring in oil:

It is almost impossible to imagine a Christmas Eve dinner without a red beet soup called barszcz, in which we usually put dumplings filled with mushrooms and cabbage:

This dish was a surprise for my family. It is a dried plums soup with beans. Quite interesting I must say:

This dish was also surprising to us. Usually we would have cabbage with mushrooms, but here it is served with yellow peas:

Even though potatoes are crucial ingredient of Polish cuisine, usually my family would not serve them during Christmas Eve dinner. But somehow they made their way to the table in the restaurant:

There were also two kinds of fried fish served: carp and cod. Carp is traditionally the main course served during the dinner:

My favorite dish is always kluski with poppy seeds. Apparently the more you eat of them, the more money you will have in the coming year. Trust me, it is a big challenge to be able to eat any of them at all after eating so many of other dishes.

The dinner ended with a fruitcake:

All in all, it was a very nice experience to have a Christmas Eve dinner outside our family house. It clearly demonstrated that it is not important where you celebrate it, but with whom.