The Best Christmas Foods From Around The World
Why limit yourself?
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‘Tis the season to be… full! With so many celebrations from Christmas to Kwanzaa, you’re going to be needing a second stomach in no time.
Why limit yourself to roast turkey and shaved ham? We’ve had a look around the world to find some of the tastiest, strangest and most wonderful foods for this festive season.
Ensalada de Nochebuena
Who said salads have to be boring? This colourful Christmas dish has enough freshness to counteract any spice you might find at a Mexican dinner table. The recipe is open to interpretation, but zesty fruits and your new favourite vegetable – the raw jicama – are mandatory for an authentic taste.
Galette des Rois
If you’re partial to a bit of puff pastry, then this is the festive treat for you. Traditionally eaten on the sixth of January to coincide with the Epiphany, the Gallette des Rois (Cake of Kings) contains a tiny porcelain fève (figurine). Whoever receives the slice with the fève inside is crowned King or Queen for the day.
Say what? Yep, you heard right. Christmas might not be a national holiday in Japan, but its citizens are still getting amongst it by ordering a full fried chicken Christmas dinner to celebrate. It all began in 1974 with the ‘Kentucky for Christmas’ advertising campaign, and it’s still going strong 42 years later.
The humble donut has made a real comeback this year, so it only makes sense to give this delicious Jewish treat some airtime. Traditionally eaten during Hannukah to celebrate the miracle of oil (hence delightfully deep-fried), over 18 million of these jelly-filled balls of joy are consumed during the holiday season each year.
Traditionally handed out after Christmas Eve mass, this Filipino delight might look a bit odd, but that’s just the pirurutong (sticky purple rice) doing its thing – in the traditional recipe at least. Nowadays, Filipinos have switched to the more convenient options of glutinous rice and purple yam powder to give this treat its gooey purple appearance.
This one requires little preparation; a bag of grapes is all you need. Originating in Spain, but also observed in many Latin American countries, people gather at home and in public squares to eat a grape for each strike of the clock at midnight.
What better way to welcome the African-American celebration of Kwanzaa than with some hearty southern-style sides? Green vegetables during the festive season might not sound sexy, but with meats and sweet treats in constant supply, a hearty dish like this is perfect for this time of year.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas falls on the January 7, and observers commemorate with this traditional stew or curry dish. Eaten with spongy sourdough injera flatbread, like all good things, this dish of spicy chicken and egg is best shared.
Is that a fish in the bathtub? If you’re in Slovakia or Poland for Christmas, it probably is. Keeping live carp in the bathtub is a tradition that stems from the post-war communist era when clean, tasty fish and refrigerators were in short supply. Though times have changed, crumbed Carp with potato salad remains a common Christmas dish in the region.
Cola de mono
Okay, okay. We know this is technically a drink, but how can you leave something called ‘Monkey’s Tail’ off this list? Theory has it that this cold drink was named after President Pedro Montt when his gun went missing at a fiesta. To calm everyone’s nerves, spices and booze were put into their coffees. The drink was dubbed ‘colt de Montt,’ morphing gradually into the ‘cola de mono’ that it is now known.
An Indian take on the Christmas rum fruit cake, the Allahabadi cake originates from the city of Allahabad in the country’s north. This aromatic recipe includes ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, as well as petha, a soft candy made from ash gourd (or winter melon).
They invented the Smörgåsboard, so it’s no wonder that the Swedes do a version called a julbord for Christmas. It includes pickled herring, cold meats, stews and desserts, with plenty of beer and schnapps served in between.
You might think this is just your traditional meat pie, but French-Canadians have given the dish a distinctly Christmas twist. The use of spices and apple cider make this pork and beef tart ooze with the delicate flavours and warmth of the festive season.
Feast of the Seven Fishes
Why have one fish dish, when you can have seven? In this Italian-American tradition, Roman Catholics abstain from red meat in preparation for Jesus’ birth by eating a variety of seafood including cod, anchovies, octopus and clams.
There may be debate about whether this dish is from Australia or New Zealand, but we can at least agree that it’s delicious. Meringue, cream and fresh fruit make this the perfect dessert for the warmer Southern Hemisphere Christmases.
(Lead image: Wikimedia Creative Commons)