Want to serve something a little different this Christmas? Why not go Mediterranean?

Christmas dinners and lunches have always sat a little uncomfortably in the South African summer and good option better suited to the South African summer is to make this year’s Christmas a Mediterranean-inspired one.






Christmas dinners and lunches have always sat a little uncomfortably in the South African summer. Sure we’ve tried to adapt by having cold versions of traditional Christmas dishes, such as roast meats, and adding cold salads to the table. Nonetheless, there’s still something that doesn’t feel quite right about eating dishes developed for the depths of a European winter on a scorching South African day.

Even if that doesn’t bother you, you might just want something a little different this year. But where should you look for inspiration? A good option that provides variety while offering dishes better suited to the South African summer is to make this year’s Christmas a Mediterranean-inspired one.

“While the coastal areas around the Mediterranean do still cool down in winter, they don’t do so to anywhere near the same extent as the more Northern European countries we take many of our traditional Christmas dishes from,” says Papy Mingashanga, Guest Relations Manager at Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront. “That means the meals they make at this time of the year are much better suited to South African Christmas celebrations.”





For many, that means setting up long tables on verandas, patios, and lawns rather than a dining room table. While traditional hot roasts may work well in cosy dining rooms, they’re less well-suited to this kind of al-fresco dining. On the other hand, it’s something that many in the Mediterranean excel at.

“If you’re going to spend most of your day outside, it only makes sense to have food that complements the setting,” says Mingshanga. “And with many cultures across the Mediterranean having deep outdoor eating traditions, their cuisines are ideally suited to it.”

Mingshanga further notes that anyone putting together a Mediterranean-style Christmas has a wide range of cuisines to choose from.

“Around 20 countries have Mediterranean coastlines,” he says, “and each of them has its own unique dishes to explore. Many also have traditional Christmas dishes that will bring something fresh to your Christmas table.”

Minghsanga points out that if you wanted to highlight the flavours of Spain, for example, you could start with entre-meses (traditional plates of cured meat, paired with local cheeses), followed by a Velencian-style paella for mains, and some marzipan or roscos de vino (doughnut shaped biscuits that contain small amounts of sweet wine and nuts) for dessert.

If, on the other hand, you’re feeling Greek, you could start with figs in blankets (which bring together dried figs, puff pastry, feta or goat cheese, and other ingredients), before moving on to lamb shanks, and finishing up with baklava. Alternatively, you could make Christmas a culinary tour with dishes from Italy, Turkey, Morocco, France, Lebanon, or any other combination that excites you.

As Mingshanga notes, you probably won’t have to go to specialist stores to get the ingredients for these dishes either.





“Parts of South Africa, particularly in the Western Cape, have Mediterranean-style climates,” he says. “That means it’s easy to get high quality local produce such as olives, cheeses, nuts, and other fresh produce. And that’s to say nothing of the high quality meat and seafood we have in South Africa. Imagine, for example, how a succulent cut of Karoo lamb could elevate a traditional Greek dish.”

“This use of quality, locally sourced ingredients with dishes inspired by global cuisines is something that is central to the philosophy behind Tobago’s, our restaurant at Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront,” he adds. “We have an abundance of incredible local ingredients in South Africa, which can be used to create beautiful dishes, no matter what season it is.”

So, this Christmas, why not explore some of those ingredients and use them to live out some of your Mediterranean food fantasies?






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