Have an international Christmas without leaving Fallbrook
Last updated 11/21/2007 at Noon
It was very exciting when I discovered that Major Market is stocking several different Christmas items from various European countries. Some of these items, such as Christmas crackers from England, I have previously had to purchase at out-of-town import shops. The manager said that more Christmas items would be in stock after Thanksgiving.
Speaking of Christmas crackers, the store carries the Tom Smith brand. Tom Smith lived in London in the mid-1800s and is the inventor of the Christmas cracker, which be began to market in 1847.
The cracker is an elongated party favor that is covered in colored foil and makes a cracking sound when both ends are pulled at the same time. Traditionally, the crackers contain a tissue paper hat, which usually looks like a paper crown, and a “motto,” which can be a witty saying or joke.
The crackers also contain a small favor such as a plastic ring or comb. However, the more expensive Tom Smith Christmas crackers that are stocked at Major Market contain more useful metal favors such as pens, key rings and tape measures. On the back of the box it shows what you can expect in your cracker.
Other items from England are the pink and white “sugar mice.” Not familiar with sugar mice? They are mice-shaped sugar lollypops that were very popular in Victorian England. Children were delighted to find them in their Christmas stockings. The Major Market sugar mice have a harder exterior with a softer sugar center and taste a bit like a softer version of rock candy.
Weissella gingerbread cookies from Germany are soft cookies with a soft white sugar glaze on the top and bottom. These airy cookies are made with small bits of almonds, cashews, walnuts and hazelnuts. Bits of orange peel give the cookies a citrus flavor and minced apricots and figs add to the delicious mélange. This is definitely one cookie to be savored.
The Lambertz company in Germany has been making pfeffernüsse cookies since 1688 and now, more than 300 years later, we can find them at Major Market! The cookies are lighter and moister than other imported pfeffernüsse I have tasted.
Pfeffernüsse are traditionally made with ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, anise and a bit of pepper. The name of the cookie means “peppernuts” in German. The Lambertz pfeffernüsse cookie has a heavier ginger flavor and a delicate licorice flavor, probably from the anise. These delicious cookies are frosted all around with a white sugar glaze.
Scotland exports many varieties of shortbread biscuits and the Border brand is one of the best I have tasted. The cookies are billed as “All Butter,” which seems to make a difference in the flavor.
The recipes used are traditional and these in the “Legends Collection” are made with glacé cherries. The box I chose was the “Legend of the Loch Ness,” which shows the Castle Urquhart and “Nessy” poking its head out of the lake. It would make a cute no-wrap or clear-wrap gift for Christmas.
Delightful candy canes found at Major Market aren’t from Europe, but from a little closer to home: Denver, Colorado. They are made by Hammond’s Candies, who have been cooking candy since 1920. The canes are handmade and come in various flavors such as cinnamon, apple pie, peppermint and strawberry. I tried the cinnamon and it tasted fresh and delicious.
Other international finds
• Whiskey fudge from Scotland in an attractive tin
• German stollen with raisins – some are packaged in boxes with Christmas scenes
• Brandy butter from England
• Tiptree Mincemeat in a jar from England
• Walker’s Mincemeat Tarts from Scotland
• Walker’s Fruit Cake from Scotland
• Brandy Christmas Pudding from England
• Foil-wrapped chocolate tree decorations in the shape of bells and Christmas presents from Germany
• Clotted cream biscuits from England
• Cadbury Dairy Milk bars in Christmas stockings from England
• Asbach chocolate liqueur candy with brandy filling from Germany
• Chocolate Santas from Germany
• Chocolate Santa advent calendars from Germany