Sometimes it feels as if the whole point of doing Christmas is so we can eat Christmas dinner, with every supermarket selling you their own version of this glorious feast in red-and-gold adverts leading up to the holiday. For Brits, the sight of a turkey and all the trimmings is so ubiquitous that we rarely give the concept a second thought (unless you happen to be the one cooking it).
But looking at the beloved meal from an outside perspective for a moment can cause some questions. Who decided to turn bread into sauce, for instance, and why? Why can’t we just have broccoli or something instead of sprouts, which – sorry – taste like small mouth farts? And most importantly of all, why is everything the same, sad beige colour? It’s like we eat normally for the rest of the year, then suddenly eat like people from medieval times.
Every country which celebrates Christmas appears to have their own traditions. Italy feasts on fried eel, for example, Australia usually have a barbeque, while Icelandic families have been known to roast reindeers. To gain an outsider perspective, then, we asked some non-Brits about what most shocked, disgusted or surprised them the most when they first laid eyes or mouths on their first British Christmas Dinner.
'IT'S A SERIES OF FOOD ONLY EATEN ONCE A YEAR BECAUSE IT'S NOT THAT GOOD'
"Yeah it’s shit. Beige, tasteless, and people eating turkey they don’t like. I don’t get the crackers and the crowns, and why do you have a Christmas pudding that – again – no-one seems to like? It’s a series of food only eaten once a year because it’s not that good. Also it’s bizarre that people get drunk on Christmas Eve and are then horrendously hungover for the actual day itself." – Stella, Germany
'THAT SAD COMBINATION OF FOODS, ALL ON ONE PLATE'
"'Rude'" is the definition of British Christmas – those brussels sprouts, how can a child survive like that? It’s abuse. The only thing I like is the popper things you put on the plate before eating [crackers]? but also it’s kind of savage how only one person wins? I’ve only had one Christmas dinner in the UK and it made me bare sad – food-wise, all I can say is this feeling of darkness and depression that overcame me. That sad combination of foods, all in one plate – where’s the good shit?
"It feels like no-one makes an effort here – almost like no one can really afford it and wants to get it over with, and it reflects in the food. In Italy the meal itself lasts around seven hours: there are so many courses, and of course, so much wine." – Giulia, Italy
“WHAT IS BREAD SAUCE? I GOOGLED IT AND IT LOOKS LIKE BABY FOOD'
"I feel like it's similar to other countries in the sense there's a roasted element and potatoes etc, but the British Christmas dinner definitely has it's own thing going on. You guys boil everything and make good things taste not good, on purpose. Like, why boil the carrots when they could be roasted with oil and garlic. And what is bread sauce? I googled it and it looks like baby food, but savoury and made out of bread. I can't imagine it has any flavour? I had sprouts with bacon once and that was tasty, but no one here makes it like that, they just boil it and it's not good." – Lia, Iceland
'YORKSHIRE PUDDING IS OBVIOUSLY THE BEST BIT'
"I actually love it! I had my first one when I lived in London around five years ago. The Christmas crackers are my favourite part – the laughs you have while trying to find the pieces flying around, and reading the funny quotes. Everyone sitting around a table with the paper crowns on their heads, and feeling like a big family no matter who you’re spending it with. I’ve brought the tradition of crackers back to Germany with me, my parents love it too. The first year I had goose, but I’ve had turkey, too. Yorkshire pudding is obviously the best bit, but I loved everything!" – Caroline, Germany
'NO WONDER YOU PEOPLE THINK THE NANDO'S SAUCE RACK IS THE EPITOME OF CULTURE'
"It’s dry… so dry! It looks like a play toy; enough fat to be shiny but too little seasoning to be believable. No disrespect to Molly-Mae but if I was served this I’d brexit our relationship before it KO’d my fucking intestines. We accept the dog food we think we deserve and honestly if you read the Wikipedia page for the British empire, you get a sense that perhaps this is really what the English deserve: a dinner as clammy, dry, and rubbery as their manners. No wonder you people think the Nando’s sauce rack is the epitome of culture." – Cody, US
“VEGETABLES SHOULD BE ROASTED; THAT'S THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE TEXTURE”
"What even is it… boiled carrots?! Do you boil your sprouts too? Vegetables should be roasted; that’s the only acceptable texture. Everything looks so bland, and the gravy is always so light and watery. My Christmas dinner is usually homemade foie gras, fig and sourdough, gravlax salmon and a fancy holiday bird of some sort, roasted vegetables and a French Christmas dessert called bûche. I’ve only ever had Christmas dinner once in London, when I was waitressing at an expensive dinner event in the festive season and got to eat some of the extra food at the end of my shift. All I remember is that the gravy was good, but overall it none of it made a long lasting impression on me." – Hélène, France
'I'VE SEEN MY FAIR SHARE OF PRETTY SHIT CHRISTMAS DINNERS'
"It’s a pimped-up roast dinner, really, isn’t it? Roast dinner was a life-changing thing for me when I moved to London, I have to admit – if done right that is. My first roast was at the Camberwell Arms, which was obviously amazing – the Yorkshire pudding was about half the size of my plate! So yeah, I’m a fan. Having said that, I’ve seen my fair share of pretty shit Christmas dinners too: the classic British under-seasoned, over-boiled, pale looking numbers." – Pasha, Russia