All around the world, people are coming together to celebrate another year around the dishes of their people. This holiday break, instead of hopping on a hot air balloon to travel the world, why not try traveling through food? Ladies and gentleman, I present to you 10 traditional holiday meals and their recipes to give you a taste of the world through the kitchens of other cultures.
Israel: Potato Latkes with a side of applesauce
A favorite treat for the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, Latkes are essentially potatoes fried until crisp in pots of oil. The oil fried foods are a representation for the Jewish community of the miracle candle which was lit for 8 nights by one night’s candle.
France: Buche De Noel
This delightful cream filled, chestnut flavored pastry is served traditionally after the Christmas eve midnight mass. With the appearance of a rolled log and often decorated with mushrooms, Buche de Noel suits its translated name, Branch of Christmas.
As a person who was raised in a traditional Mexican home, I can attest to the fact that from December to January, there will be tamales at every family get together. Masa (a corn-based dough) is steam cooked in a corn husk and often filled with savory pork or sweetened with strawberry or pineapple. There are many traditional varieties that I can not even begin to describe.
During the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese new year or during the winter solstice, tangyuan is often served. These boiled spheres of rice can be made solid or more commonly filled with sweetened black sesame or red bean paste.The water they were boiled in can be flavored with ginger and used for serving the tangyuan.
One of Norway’s common holiday meals is dried or salted whitefish, like cod, that is treated with lye. A soulution of lye and water breaks down proteins within the fish creating it’s gummy texture. After preperation, simply cook it with salt like any other fish.
If you enjoy the sweet taste of honey then this dessert may be for you. Eaten on Christmas, after the traditional Greek Orthodox fast has been broken; Melomakarona is an especially delightful cookie that is soaked in honey and coated with crunchy walnuts.
England: Mincemeat Pie
Mincemeat is an eight century year old dessert and so one can only imagine how much it has been perfected over such a long period of time. Tart cherries combined with spices such as nutmeg and ginger accompany a tender steak in a softly browned pie crust. If you have yet to try this sweet dessert, let this year be the one that makes history.
12 meat-free dishes, representative of the biblical 12 apostles, are traditionally served for dinner on Christmas Eve. Pierogi is commonly seen at the Christmas Eve table. It is a unique type of dumpling that is filled with sauerkraut and potato.
South Africa: Malva Pudding
Here is yet another sweet and spongy dessert for the holiday break. This pudding is well sought out for its bounce and burst of sugar. Though this is more commonly made than the previous entries, it is still seen as a traditionall holiday treat.
As strange as this may sound, some people look forward to Christmas fruitcake and this is especially true in Germany, where fruitcake has been around for centuries. Stollen is a type of fruitcake with sweetened and dried fruits, crunchy nuts, seasoned with jolly spices and sprinkled with confectioners sugar.
During this holiday break, enjoy your time with your families and stuff yourselves with joy and wonderful food from different parts of the word. Remember that food is more than just calories or a means of sustenance; it is culture, it is comfort, it is how we as human beings display our love for one another. If you have a traditional holiday meal you would like to share or if you were able to experience making any of the dishes listed above, please do comment. Happy Holidays!
Haslett, L. (2012, December 3). 15 Delicious International Holiday Food Traditions. Delish. Retrieved from http://www.delish.com/entertaining/g363/holiday-food-traditions/?slide=15
Revolinski, K. (2016). 10 Holiday Food Traditions from Around the World. Reader’s Digest. Retrieved from http://www.readersdigest.ca/food/cooking-tips/10-holiday-food-traditions-around-world/3/
The Daily Meal. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.thedailymeal.com/moreslideshows/eat/10-traditional-christmas-foods-around-world-0