The night before Christmas
Throughout Spain Christmas Eve is one of the most jovial times to stroll through the streets of cities and towns. Neighbourhood bars and cafés all stay open into the early hours, hosting intimate gatherings for family and friends. No gifts are exchanged and there is no Santa Claus. Instead the gift-giving happens on the 6th January during Epiphany ─ another religious holiday.
Tasty Christmas tapas
For the uninitiated, the first part of a Spanish Christmas is tapas. A delectable starter selection that features tasty morsels like jamón, queso y chorizo (ham, cheese and Spanish chorizo sausage) along with crusty fresh bread – ideal for nibbling before the main course.
A tasty and easy starter is langostinos con salsa rosa (large prawns with pink sauce). This recipe couldn’t be easier, with prawns cooked in a spicy pink sauce consisting of mayonnaise, ketchup and Tabasco.
An alternative to salsa rosa is a romesco vinaigrette, made from garlic, Spanish olive oil and vinegar. This complements seafood and a light salad perfectly. Are you eager to understand the essence of Spanish culinary words? Immerse yourself with a course at CLIC, visit www.clic.es.
Primer plato means the first plate. This is literally a warm up to the main course, with soup being the typical fare. Consider sopa de pescado y marisco (fish and shellfish soup), a traditional favourite in beach-side Andalucia. A more creamy variety is sopa de carabineros (creamy prawn soup) and esparragos blancos (white asparagus spears that are delicate and creamy in flavour, having never seen the sun.)
The second plate normally consists of deeply satisfying and stodgy meat and potato-based dishes. Try patatas fritas or potatoes that are lightly doused in olive oil and baked for a long time. Also, cordero asado (roast lamb) done with a rich and herby infusion of flavour. For balance, have a green salad as an accompaniment.
Postre – dessert
Finally is the deep sigh of satisfaction, as tummies are allowed to settle before the grand finale. Traditionally, a Spanish Christmas finishes up with desserts like polvorones (almond biscuits); turrón (Spanish almond sweets); and mantecados (a delectable crumble cake).
Toasting to Christmas and having a good night is best with some Spanish cava or Rioja wine, and a great resounding cheer of “Feliz Navidad” (Merry Christmas).
If you’re a culture vulture and want to learn more about the fascinating Spanish language, check out some enriching and enjoyable Spanish courses in Spain, and make the dream a reality.
BBC Good Food Spanish Recipes
More delectable, tried and trusted recipes from the BBC
Taste test: Spanish food
The Guardian goes on a journey to find the best tapas and Rioja
Christmas traditions in Barcelona
The Barcelona tourist guide