Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Christmas
Recreating a Luxembourgish Christmas in Canada There is something so comforting about remembering the cosiness of your childhood home during the Christmas season: the bright lights on a dark night, the warmth emanating not only from the chimney but also from the candles of the advent wreath, and the pervasive smells of pine and home baking.
The Luxembourgish dairy company Luxlait has made eggnog since the early 1960s. According to my grandmother, it was delivered directly to the milk farmers. In turn, they sold the eggnog to their fellow villagers. To many disappointed Luxembourgers, the real rum it contained back then has since been replaced with a nonalcoholic rum and vanilla flavouring and the fat content has been reduced from 10% to 6%. To me, Luxlait eggnog forms an integral part of the Christmas season. It is to be sipped slowly on cold winter nights, sitting in front of the fire in the living room.
If you cannot go to that home during the holiday season, you bring it to wherever you are now. Or at least you try. Living in Canada, a country with a rich immigration history and a famous reputation for international cuisine, it is not particularly hard to recreate the Luxembourgish Christmas menu of my childhood: smoked salmon or Coquilles St. Jacques for starters; Magret de Canard, venison, Raclette or Fondue for the main and Bûche (yule log cake) for dessert. No need to go far, the grocery store has everything, ex-
cept for the Bûche, but I can preorder that from one of the many French patisseries in Toronto. The eggnog however, is a different story. Even the one I made myself did not come close. It looks like I will be spending Christmas in Luxembourg next year. TEXT: LIZ WENGER | PHOTO: PHILIP WENGER
It is bitter, watery and leaves me with an artificial aftertaste I can’t quite place. This is not at all how I remember eggnog! I’m standing in the milk aisle of my local Toronto grocery store and hand my sample back to the lady. I try not to look too disgruntled, after all, it’s not her fault, she has never had Luxembourgish eggnog before.
Liz Wenger is a Luxembourger living in Canada. She is currently publishing a book for English speakers to learn Luxembourgish. You can sign up to be notified of the book’s release on her website learnluxembourgish.com.
Thoughts on Christmas in the city TEXT: SILVIA DE VRIES
One of my all-time favourite Christmas movies is White Christmas with Bing Crosby. As a kid I dreamed of celebrating Christmas in an Inn located in the countryside just like the one featured in the movie. Christmas trees would reach the ceiling, decorated perfectly and lit up by hundreds of candles. We would all cosy up to the fireplace, one just like in the movie: round, centred in the middle of the room, when unexpectedly, snowflakes would start to fall outside. A white Christmas after all. Yet to this day, almost every Christmas I ever celebrated took place, not in a remotely located Inn, but in a city – from Berlin to Helsinki, Copenhagen to, of course, my beloved Amsterdam. Here we all gather on the Dam Square, with Christmas trees reaching somewhat close to the top of the palace, ice skating on a makeshift rink, while sipping hot cocoa and en-
16 | Issue 12 | December 2014
joying the light spectacle of the Bijenkorf department store in December. Christmas these days doesn't look like the Christmases I dreamt about as a child, yet Christmas in the city feels a lot like I imaged this holiday would be. Some say city life is fast paced and you live disconnected from one another. That may be true from time to time, but come Christmas, this city comes together and slows down, if only for a while. Just like the Christmas I always dreamt about. May your Christmas be merry and ever so unexpectedly, white. P.S. You can find a fireplace similar to the one in White Christmas at Café Zurich (Mercatorplein 2B) in Amsterdam West! Dutch writer Silvia de Vries blogs about her everyday life and food at www.silviadevries.com as well as regularly contributing her thoughts on everything Dutch to Discover Benelux.
Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.