It all seems so British, so traditional and familiar. But assuming you do sit down for a traditional Christmas lunch tomorrow, you will actually be indulging in a taste-fest of flavours from all over the world. Many are foods which were once considered exotic and highly-prized, which were traded on spice routes, imported from the Americas, or shipped from the East Indies. Today you can find them on the supermarket shelves. Here is our global tour of where they actually came from in the first place.
Turkey and cranberry sauce
You probably know this one. Turkeys are native to North America and they were first brought back to this country from New England after the Pilgrims had established themselves there in the 17th century. Eating turkey on Christmas Day is a much more recent tradition – they started to replace goose in the 19th century. Frankly I think we should have stuck with the latter.
Cranberries – which are also native to New England, were probably first consumed with Turkeys by native Americans. You may not spot a wild turkey in New England today, but it makes a great destination for a summer holiday on the coast – try America As You Like It (www.americaasyoulikeit.com).
It’s impossible to explain the enduring appeal of these revolting vegetables. As far as I’m concerned, they should go back to where they came from. It’s not hard to work out where that is. The sprouts we eat today are probably indigenous to the Mediterranean, but were first cultivated in the Low Countries, near Brussels. If you really want to shop for them today, try the markets at Flagey on Saturday and Sunday morning or Châtelain on Wednesday. You can get there and back in a day from London on Eurostar (eurostar.com).