01 | Oct | 16

Richard Johnson

All We Want for Christmas

Can we be clear on something?

German and German-style Christmas markets – like the ones you find in London, Manchester, Leeds, Bath, Cardiff, and that big one in Birmingham – they’re not all that, are they?

Alright, so the idea is to offer a taste of German authenticity. But if authenticity involves thin mulled wine, cheap bratwurst, soggy schnitzel, and wooden sheds-cum-food stalls straight off the assembly line, we’re worried for our European neighbours.

The lack of street cred doesn’t stop there – go to any ‘German market’ and there’s a distinct lack of, well, Germans. As reported by the Beeb, a lecturer at Birmingham University sent her German students to interview stallholders. “They would come back and say ‘There wasn’t anybody there who could speak German’,” she said.

The BBC’s mini exposé concludes, on behalf of the market’s attendees: ‘Perhaps the most German aspect of the market,’ it reads, ‘was the mere fact of its existence.’ Charming.

It begs the question – where’s our own take on the Christmas market? For some reason – as The Guardian put it a few years ago – somewhere down the line, ‘we fickle Brits preferred this quasi-historical festive romp of a German Christmas to our bog standard British one.’

As much as we might not like it, our little post-Brexit island isn’t going to get a lot of love from our fellow Europeans in the near future. Besides, the way we see it, there’s plenty of the good British-made stuff already going round without needing an exhausted gimmick thrown in (side note: the Frankfurt Christmas market in Brum originally came about as a marketing opportunity for the Frankfurt tourist board).

We’ve had enough. Enough of those bland-as-hell baked pretzels. Enough of those ‘traditional’ industrial lagers. Enough of those poor excuses for authentic crepes. All we really want for Christmas is food from the people who know what they’re doing – not churned out of the system ‘for the masses’.

Which is why, at our Winter Gathering in Manchester from November 11 to January 8 — and at the Yorkshire Christmas we’ve got planned for Trinity Kitchen in Leeds from December 11 to January 22 — we’re making damn sure Britain’s newest breed of Christmas market isn’t of the pseudo-German variety. Feels like we’re growing up at last….