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Now that we're in full holiday mode, you may already be thinking of all the different treats you will be baking (or buying!) and the holiday feast you will be preparing or enjoying with your loved ones come Christmas! There are so many great traditions within our own country, but today we wanted to share a few global food traditions, with one from our own, to help us gain a larger perspective of the ways different countries celebrate this holiday season around the world.
FRANCE - Bûche de Noël
Among some of the more elaborate and savory foods that France has to offer, Christmastime comes with a feast that includes oysters and foie gras--fattened goose or duck liver. Their main meat is usually capon, turkey, or pheasant and they top off the meal with a delicious dessert feast that includes their version of our Yule Log, the Bûche de Noël. This spongecake is often covered in chocolate buttercream and tiny meringue "mushrooms." What a delicious way to end a meal!
GERMANY - CHRISTMAS GOOSE
The entirety of the Christmas evening feast is centered around the Christmas goose--or more traditionally called the Weihnachtsgans. What originally began as part of the celebration for St. Martin's day, celebrated on November 11, the cooked and stuffed goose became the main piece of the Christmas meal as early as 1350. Typically, German families will stuff the goose with apples, onions, chestnuts, and prunes and serve it alongside red cabbage, dumplings and sauerkraut.
ITALY - Panettone
Italy has a variety of Christmas traditions, depending on where you call home. In some parts of the country, the Feast of Seven Fishes. Italian families will fish seven different ways with some of the common pieces of the meal including baccalà (salted cod) and calamari. Other geographical areas, away from the sea, might be more likely to prepare a roasted lamb or some sort of poultry that has been boiled and smothered in a sauce. Panettone originates in Northern Italy and is a soft and bouncy bread, usually containing some dried fruit, chocolate, raisins, or nuts. You can now find this in many USA grocers as panettone has become more popular outside of Northern Italy.
GREEK - Melomakarona
If you are looking for a different type of sweet treat to add to your Christmas traditions, you may want to try the Greek sweet known as Melomakarona, a Greek cookie that is said to taste like baklava. This sweet orange-zest cookie is soaked in honey and topped with walnuts--sounds delicious! This sweet treat is served after a Christmas feast that is often made and offered after the religious community is done fasting. Items you may find at this feast include avgolemono, a chicken and rice soup with egg yolk and lemon, usually served at the beginning of the day, pork, stuffed cabbage, and Christopsomo or "Christ's bread."
Japan - fried chicken
How did fried chicken become the tradition in Japan you ask?? Sometime in the 1970's, the newly opened KFC chain opened up restaurants in Japan and wanted to join in on Christmas advertisements, offering a Christmas "party barrel" that was inspired by the American turkey dinner. This came at a time when Japan hadn't yet incorporated many Christmas traditions and so many millions of families quickly adopted this as their family Christmas meal. Every year, about 3.5 million Japanese families order KFC for their Christmas meal! Many of them may need to place their order up to two months in advance in order to secure their meal.
USA - FRUITCAKE
Most of us can picture the fruit cakes that showed up in our U.S. homes every year--though no one really asked for them! These fruit cakes seemed to be a gift that you took graciously, hid for a while and then threw out when it was no longer able to be eaten. However, this can take upwards of 100 years due to the cake being soaked in alcohol--preventing molding. There is even a clip of a late night host who sampled a 'family heirloom' fruitcake that dated back to 1878! So where did the tradition of fruit cake come from? Apparently, in the history of our nation, fruitcake was deemed a symbol of prosperity as dried fruit and nuts were seen as delicacies and were very expensive. So, this entire tradition was meant to show off our wealth, and although it doesn't convey the same meaning nowadays, we still may find them showing up at our doorstep.
COSTA RICA & OTHERS - TAMALES
In many Latin American countries, you may find a tamale at your Christmas dinner table, or something like it! Made from ground corn masa and usually including some pork, peppers, or other meats, these tamales are then wrapped in plantain leaves or corn husks and then steamed. In other countries, like Venezuela, they make their variation of tamales called hallaca, prepared with capers, raisins, pork, olives, and pimentos that are folded into corn dough and wrapped in banana leaves. Many of these meals are so time intensive that the entire family is invited to help in the preparation of this delightful meal.
WHICH FOOD TRADITION DO YOU WANT TO TRY?? MAYBE IT'S TIME TO CONSIDER A HOLIDAY VACATION!
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