Queen Letizia of Spain visits Royal Academy of Engineering

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Queen Letizia of Spain, along with her husband King Felipe VI and their daughters Princess Leonor and Princess Sofia, celebrate Christmas at Zarzuela Palace, near Madrid, which is their official home.

In Spain, the main celebrations begin on Christmas Eve – December 24 – when King Felipe delivers the annual Christmas speech to the Spanish people.

It is then followed by a dinner, attended by the entire royal family.

The Spanish royals usually attend church on Christmas Eve, with a traditional mass held at midnight.

On Christmas Day, December 25, Queen Letizia’s family have lunch at the palace.

It is believed they enjoy the same dishes all Spaniards prepare at Christmas time.

The meal would normally start with ‘entremeses’, which are appetiser plates, and are served as a starter before the Christmas Day or Christmas Eve meal.

‘Entremeses’ include charcuterie such as ham, chorizo, black pudding or cheese.

Erik Wolf, founder of the modern food tourism industry and the World Food Travel Association, said: “Every culture has its own, rich holiday traditions. The Spanish tradition is not so different to that which we experience in other cultures, including in the UK. Whereas we might offer cold-cuts in the UK, the Spanish will have slices of their own favourite hams or sausages. So it’s swings and roundabouts.”

Seafood is a main part of the Christmas meal, followed by roast suckling pig – known as ‘cochinillo’ – or roast lamb.

Seafood, such as lobster, prawns or seafood soup, is often served as the main course instead of the traditional turkey.

Cochinillo or roast suckling pig, which is cooked until the skin is brown and crispy and comes with onions and potatoes, is another Christmas favourite, along with the roast lamb.

For dessert, the Spanish royal family have ‘turrón’ which is the most typical sweet treat to have during the festivities.

Similar to nougat, is typically made from almonds, peanuts or walnuts.

‘Polvorones’ and ‘mantecados’, the colourfully wrapped sweets, are another typical Spanish Christmas dessert.

“You will usually only find turron for sale around the holiday time. It’s like a thicker, richer and yummier version of the chocolate bars we all know. The nice thing is, they offer so many more flavours than what you can find on the sweets shelf of Tesco! Polvorones are nice, but I really love mantecados. If you love Scottish shortbread, you will love mantecados,” Erik explained.

And what do royals drink?

A Spanish Christmas meal wouldn’t be complete without a glass of Cava, which is the Spanish version of Champagne. The cava is originally from Catalonia but all Spaniards drink it at Christmas.

Erik explained that the Spanish Christmas menu is not that different from what the British Royal Family would have.

“Most cultures have a tradition of a ‘royal feast’. It is usually a kind of buffet, with many of the country’s favourite foods.

“The British Royal Family will be eating more root vegetables like roasted parsnips and swede, or Brussels sprouts. And Her Majesty does not eat garlic, which is used quite often in Spain. The Spanish will be eating a lot more pork and fish, while the British royal family will be eating turkey, beef, ham and perhaps game.

“While some of the details will change between the British and Spanish Royal Families, the basic concepts of a buffet spread, and featuring the favourite, traditional dishes, still remains the same,” Erik explained.

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