I’ve always been fascinated by the different foods people eat around the world. Christmas, for many people, is the occasion where they go all out – above and beyond any other day of the entire year. It’s a day for feasting, celebrating and spending time with loved ones. There are many special dishes across the globe that are served especially for Christmas. If you’re American, you’re probably familiar with prime rib, turkey and salmon – some of the most popular choices here in the USA. I decided to take a dive into the meals that are served for this special holiday all across planet Earth. Here’s four of my favorite mouthwatering Christmas dinners.
- Polish Festivities With Pierogi & More
- Tamales & Posole From Mexico (and New Mexico)
- Heavenly Venezuelan Hallaca
- The Japanese Christmas Tradition You Never Expected
1. Polish Festivities With Pierogi & More
Christmas dinner for Polish families is often an elaborate affair. It’s not uncommon to enjoy a twelve course meal, including a plethora of classic Polish dishes. The twelve courses represent the twelve apostles, a tradition which can be found in many other cultures around the world. My personal favorite Polish dish? Pierogi, hands down. These dumplings are often filled with meat and potatoes, and they’re so delicious. Even if you’re not up for preparing a twelve course feast (which sounds fun, but I know I won’t be doing that this year) preparing pierogi is not difficult and yields scrumptious results. Check out our recipe for pierogi here.
2. Tamales & Posole From Mexico (and New Mexico)
Christmas in Mexico means tamales, and lots of them. Preparing tamales is a holiday tradition for many Mexican families. These delicious packets of meat, cheese and masa are wrapped up in a corn husk – the perfect little Christmas package. Tamales are an ancient food and date all the way back to the Incas. The Aztecs and Mayans also ate them. These ancient cultures believed that people had been created from corn, and thus tamales wrapped in corn husks were considered food fitting for the holiest of occasions. This tradition withstood the test of time, and tamales are still one of the most popular Christmas foods. Traditionally made with pork or beef, I love making tamales with wild boar, elk or bison.
Another Mexican Christmas dish that we had to include on this list – especially being based in New Mexico – is posole. If you’re a local or have ever been to visit New Mexico, you’ve probably had the pleasure of eating posole before. This is a New Mexican classic, but posole actually has roots going as far back as the Aztecs. It’s a traditional Mexican soup that is often served for special occasions, holidays and celebrations. This iconic soup is often eaten on Christmas Eve and traditionally is made with pork or chicken. I prefer our mouthwatering version made with lamb or wild boar shoulder. Check out the Posole recipe here.
3. Heavenly Venezuelan Hallaca
Venezuelans enjoy a food called hallaca, prepared especially for Christmas. They’re similar to a dumpling, but wrapped in a banana leaf. The corn dough inside is stuffed with meat, olives, raisins, capers and pimentos. Because preparing the hallaca is so labor intensive, this dish is typically only enjoyed once a year at Christmastime. Hallaca are a fusion of Indian, African and Spanish culture – as so many things in Venezuela are. I’ve never made or tasted hallaca before, but would really love to. Maybe this year I’ll make some with bison or wild boar – sounds absolutely delicious! If you have a great hallaca recipe, we’d love to hear from you.
4. The Japanese Christmas Tradition You Never Expected
I was lucky enough to visit Japan in my early twenties. I stayed up until just a couple days before Christmas, and was surprised to find out what millions of Japanese families look forward to as their Christmas dinner each year. Thanks to a clever marketing campaign over the last four decades, almost 4 million Japanese people order KFC’s Christmas buckets during the holiday season. I can definitely understand the allure of eating fried chicken for a holiday. I’d prefer making my own over eating factory farmed chicken from a fast food restaurant. Granted, it seemed like the meat for fast food restaurants was generally better quality in Japan than it is in the United States. However, I’d much rather use ours. Check out our guide to making the perfect fried chicken here.
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