Danish Traditions and French Food in a Spanish Village


There are 2 different nationalities in our couple; during certain festivities, it’s therefore important that Lars and I can come to a compromise. Luckily, we do share the same preferences/priorities:

  • The food has to be delicious. Lars and I are foodies; because of my ASD however, I experience this differently. I am hypersensitive, I can literally lose myself in the taste of excellent food. ASD can have its advantages!
  • Relaxing: neither of us likes to spend hours in the kitchen preparing food. And stress has to be avoided when you deal with mental health issues.
  • We are inspired by two movies.

Babette’s Feast, where French cooking plays a very important role.

Julie and Julia, also devoted to French cuisine!

23 December

Lars once told me:

In the life of any Dane, there are two very important dates, 23 June and 23 December.

The Viking

23 June is “Sankt Hans Aften” (the Danish version of midsummer night), 23 December is called “lille juleaften” (small Christmas Eve). This is just the evening before Christmas Eve; it’s also a tradition in Norway and Iceland.

On the menu…

The weeks before the festivities I had seen a lot of publicity for shrimps. This is my own take on shrimp cocktail: shrimps (obviously), mixed salad, and tartare sauce (I couldn’t find any cocktail sauce).

Confit of duck with mixed salad and fried potatoes for our main dish.


24 December

Christmas Eve is the main event for the Danes. Goose, duck, and pork are popular for the main dish.

Not just any dry-cured ham for a starter, but the best in Spain: Jamón Ibérico (also known as Pata Negra).

In the afternoon I had started with the preparation of the main dish…

Tadaa! Boeuf Bourguignon! Slowly cooked beef, carrots, mushrooms, bacon, and onions in red wine. The Viking called it “phenomenal”.

Back to Danish tradition for dessert: Riz a l’Amande (French origins!). Milk rice, cream, almonds, and cherry marmalade. Whoever finds a whole almond wins a prize. It was decadently delicious!

And sweet cream cherry to accompany all the decadence.

25 December

This was the main event in my family. The Danes by now find themselves in a food coma.

This time the starter was some duck mousse, presentation à la Viking.

To be more precise, Viking in a non-creative mood.

The two other courses consisted of leftovers of the 2 days before.

26 December

The Danes have awakened from their food coma. It’s time to eat the very last leftovers with new dishes.

After all this meat it was time – finally! – for fish!

A very simple starter: smoked salmon.

I wanted to prepare sol meunière. Unfortunately, I had to do with dorado. I coated it in flour and then slowly fried it in (lots of) butter. Not pictured: served with lemon, boiled potatoes, and a salad.

Honestly, I cannot remember what we had for dessert.

1 January

Lars and I always stay in a tranquil hotel for New Year’s Eve, as far away as possible from fireworks and firecrackers. I hate loud noises, and they can even trigger a severe panic attack in me.

For New Year’s Day, I cooked “coq au vin”. Slowly cooked chicken with vegetables in red wine. And we forgot to take a picture. Chocolate ice cream for dessert (vanilla for the Viking).

That’s it, folks! Since 2013, Lars and I have celebrated Christmas and New Year without any family. The pandemic therefore didn’t affect us as much it did with our friends. We found most of the ingredients in our local supermarket (Dia); for the more luxurious produce (duck confit/mousse, dorado), we went to Mercadona. All in all, we had a great time!

What about you? How did you celebrate the holidays? Any problems with the pandemic? Do you have any special traditions? Let us know in the comments!


How to Experience the Christmas Atmosphere in the South of Spain

Let’s face it: in Belgium, it was always easy to experience the Christmas atmosphere every year… Winters there are cold, dark, wet and/or windy, sometimes there is even snow and then you just automatically long for those festive days filled with warmth and light. And, of course, there were Christmas markets everywhere! Indeed, with a lot of fondness, I think back at the many happy hours we passed at the Christmas market of Brussels, soaking up the atmosphere and drinking Glühwein. And eating!

But here in the south of Spain, the weather circumstances are – of course – quite different… Last year, when we were still in Torrox (Costa del Sol), temperatures were very mild (around 22 degrees, that’s 71,6 Fahrenheit), so it felt more like summer than winter. And what we were not aware of either, was that the sun goes down here later than in Belgium; it only gets dark between 17.30 and 18.00. So, dark and cold, no…

Thanks to the Internet, I luckily discovered that there are Christmas markets in Spain as well, and certainly at the Costa del Sol and in the bigger cities, where there are lots of tourists and ex-pats. Imagine our joy when we found out that there was even such a market in Torrox Costa! So, at the beginning of December 2018, we took the bus to the coast and got into the Christmas atmosphere.

Granted, it does feel a lot surreal in the beginning: a Christmas market right next to the blue sea and under lots of sunshine. The Spanish seemed to feel cold though, wearing sweaters and jackets, but most of the ex-pats and tourists – Lars and I included – were walking around in T-shirts and summer dresses. And then suddenly, you hear Mariah Carey singing and the Christmas atmosphere kicks in.

According to the Internet, the Christmas market of Torrox Costa is the biggest one at the Costa del Sol. In reality, the version of 2018 was quite small… There were a dozen stalls or so selling Christmas decorations and all kinds of artisanal products.

There was also entertainment for big and small.

And… food! Let’s face it, it’s one of the main reasons why you go to a Christmas market. And what would a Spanish one be without tapas! But, to our great joy, there was Glühwein as well.

Maybe it wasn’t as big as Lars and I had imagined, but we still enjoyed this Christmas market a lot. We spent a couple of very agreeable hours there and it certainly got us into a festive atmosphere. By the way, we had plans to go back this year, but at the last minute, we had to cancel our plans. Anyway, if you want to visit this Christmarket market yourself next year – and you happen to be in the south of Spain, it takes place during the first week of December.

Merry Christmas to you all!

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