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Christmas dinner in Australia


Australian Christmas today is characterized by gastronomic eclecticism. Many of us have abandoned the old British customs — except for the rich and alcoholic Christmas pudding. Edward Shaw/iStockphoto hide caption

toggle caption Edward Shaw/iStockphoto

Australian Christmas today is characterized by gastronomic eclecticism. Many of us have abandoned the old British customs — except for the rich and alcoholic Christmas pudding.

Edward Shaw/iStockphoto

Americans know Australia as the land Down Under, and one consequence of this geographical flip is that Christmas here falls at the height of summer.

In Slovakia, Christmas Dinner Starts In The BathtubOur 100-degree temperatures aren't exactly conducive to cooking with a hot oven — although early colonists gave it their best shot.

But it wasn't long before Australians began to rebel, ditching the formal dining room for the pleasures of a picnic spread at the beach or a shady glade. Over the years, many of us have abandoned the old British customs altogether.

This is part of a series of stories exploring the rich diversity of Christmastime edibles around the world, and the stories behind the food.

For Norwegian-Americans, Christmas Cheer Is Wrapped Up In Lefse

Except for Christmas pudding.

Plum pudding, as it's also known, has a long, distinguished history going back to at least the early 17th century. Ironically, plums are not an ingredient, though other fruits — dried raisins, sultanas and currants — are obligatory, as are aromatic spices. These are suspended in a matrix made of grated suet, eggs, breadcrumbs and flour — and a healthy pour of brandy, or sometimes rum or sherry. Traditionally, this rich and alcoholic dessert is served with custard and brandy butter. While you welcome it on Christmas Day, once a year is plenty.

The 12 Days Of Quirky Christmas Foods Around The GlobeIdeally, you make the pudding in November, giving it a month to age. You prepare the fruit and search for silver coins and tiny charms — a money purse, a horseshoe, a ring — to add in. These will predict the finder's luck in the coming year.

Finally, you assemble family for the all-important stirring: Everyone takes turns grasping the stout wooden spoon and pushing it through the solid mass of fruit, coins and charms while making a wish. The spoon must always follow the same direction, and there can be no pause in the stirring, for fear that wishes will not be granted.

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