When we were in a delicatessen doing some last-minute shopping here in Krakow* on Christmas Eve, before the shops shut early in the afternoon so workers could head home for Christmas dinner, Lara overheard a visiting family complaining about being unaware that everything (and we mean everything) shut so early.
The mother and father were grumbling to each other as they desperately tried to figure out what they could put together for dinner from the cans of tinned and packet food on the shelves. “We’re going to have pasta for Christmas?” one of the children asked her mother in horror.
Here in Kraków and the rest of Poland, ‘Christmas’ dinner is actually eaten on Christmas Eve, beginning just after sundown – traditionally, when the first star is sighted. Dishes are made well in advance of the feast and visitors to the city are right to feel a little left out wandering the empty streets while grandma cooks up a storm for extended families.
If we were back in Australia, it would be me cooking up a storm on our annual visit to Oz for Christmas. We usually head to the wonderful home of our uncle and aunt, George and Tamara, and for several days over the Christmas-Boxing Day period there are always people dropping in expecting to be fed – and I love it. We’re missing it, but there truly is something special about Christmas in Europe.
Meanwhile, back in Kraków, we knew that the shops were shutting early, so we had planned ahead as much as we could, considering we’d been to Zakopane in the mountains for a few days. Still, in the local delicatessen, the only shop still open in the city centre at 3pm, there weren’t enough ingredients on the shelves to make the decadent Christmas meal I’d hoped to prepare.
There were enough to make a decadent Christmas breakfast, however… free-range eggs, smoked salmon, Russian salmon roe, rich butter, dill, cream, and some rather sugary Polish ‘bubbly’ to toast Christmas with.
- 4 large free-range eggs
- 40 grams smoked salmon
- Small jar of salmon roe
- 1 small bunch of dill
- 25-50 grams of butter
- brioche or dark rye bread
- I dash of cream or sour cream
- In a saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and eggs.
- Stir constantly with a spatula until you start to see little lumps of cooked eggs form. Remove from the heat occasionally so that the eggs don’t overcook.
- Toast some brioche (or dark rye bread if you’re in Central or Eastern Europe).
- Remove the eggs from the heat and add the chopped salmon and a dollop of cream (or sour cream) to help stop the cooking process.
- Pile the eggs on top of your toast, and add a few salmon roe, and a few of sprigs of dill to each plate.
A sparkling Christmas tree, snow on the rooftops, Frank Sinatra on the stereo, a glass of bubbly, and some creamy, decadent eggs. It might not be Christmas at ‘home’, but it’s a very fine way to spend Christmas morning in our ‘home away from home’.
Merry Christmas everybody – wherever you’re spending it!
Pst… don’t forget that if you took a nice Christmas photo today, all you need to do is add 250 words about your Christmas day – at home or away – to enter our December competition to win a holiday rental stay of your choice anywhere in the world and a whole bunch of other fabulous travel prizes. Click here for details. Hurry, the deadline is in a few days!
* We may be posting Budapest stories at the moment, but, no, we’re not actually in Budapest anymore – our little blog is having a hard time keeping up with us at the moment, that’s all.