Holiday Dinners from Around the World

Turkey, dressing and all the fixings…the most common thought of Christmas Dinner for most Americans. But where did this menu come from? No surprise, the answer is from that they are heavily influenced by English traditions. Roasted meats, usually a goose in England as opposed to turkey here in America. Standing beef roast is also very common in England as well as America. The side dishes include dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, squash or roasted root vegetables and a variety of prepared fall fruits.

Region to region across America have slight differences in these side dishes; Virginia adds oysters, the Gulf Coast adds shrimp, from the Upper Midwest there are often Scandinavian influences such as mashed turnips and in the South Eastern region rice is often substituted for potatoes or is mixed into the dressing. But America and England does have an exclusive lock on what Christmas Dinner looks like; nearly every culture around the world has a celebration at this time of the year: Epiphany, Yule, Noche Buena, Joulupoyta, Reveillon, Sveta noc and Nochebuena. No matter the name, it all means the same thing – a feast with family and friends.

In Asia some traditions include: KFC (yes, Kentucky Fried Chicken) has been a favorite tradition since the 1970’s in Japan, so popular that KFC restaurants have to take reservations months in advance; in the Philippines a dish named “hamon” is the centerpiece of the Christmas Eve family dinner, this dish is a cured pork leg that is slow roasted all day and served after late evening Mass.

Europe has some of the most recognizable traditions, some of the more unusual include: in Austria they enjoy fried carp; a whole slow-cooked suckling pig is a favorite in Germany; in the County Cork, Ireland they feast on “Spiced Beef” which is a salt cured rump joint that is prepared by boiling in a mix of water and stout then roasted; Norway features “ribbe” which is a pork belly side that is prepared to produce cracklings; pickled herring and lutfisk are featured at dinner in Sweden.

And finally in the Americas, outside of the United States may feature the following on a Christmas table: Panettone is popular in both Brazil and Peru to be served as dessert; spiked Eggnog is a staple on nearly every Canadian Christmas table; in Honduras there is a tradition for a specially prepared tamales, these tamales feature pork, potato, chickpea and whole green olives wrapped in maize dough; and in Mexico you may see tamales, pozole, birria and menudo at the Christmas gathering.

No matter where you are from, the holiday season holds special traditions that typically revolve around family and friends gathering to celebrate together over food. And in that spirit, Campus Cooks would like to wish everyone a happy and merry holiday season. –Cheers!

John Steiding / Director of Training

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