Nov 24, 2016
Spruce up your festivities by mixing in other holiday traditions
By Stacey Stein
While a traditional holiday dinner in Canada typically includes well-loved staples such as turkey with stuffing, fruitcake and eggnog, festive meals in other countries can be very different. In Mexico, tamales are a traditional Christmas dish, fish soup is popular in Poland during the holidays, and in Greece, cheese features prominently in a typical holiday meal.
If you’re looking to branch out during the festive season, why not mix things up – and surprise your guests – by borrowing from a few different holiday traditions?
Here are a few ideas to help get you started.
Holiday inspiration: Mexico
Holiday inspiration: Poland
Holiday inspiration: Greece
Other holiday food traditions
The holidays of Chanukah (an eight-day Jewish celebration) and Kwanzaa (a week-long holiday honouring African culture and traditions) fall around the same time as Christmas. Both holidays feature unique foods, many of which would blend in nicely with a traditional Christmas dinner.
Many of the foods eaten at Chanukah tend to be laden with oil, which is tied to the meaning of the holiday. Oily Chanukah foods include latkas (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (deep-friend doughnuts filled with jelly or custard).
There are many different takes on the humble potato latka, including versions that swap sweet potatoes for white potatoes, or this veggie version, which also incorporates carrots and zucchinis along with cottage cheese, giving them a hit of protein. Latkas are traditionally served with applesauce or sour cream for dipping, and make a great app or side dish at a holiday dinner table.
It’s customary to eat dairy foods during Chanukah, such as cheese blintzes, which also make a great side dish for any holiday meal. For a sweet finish that just about any guest will enjoy, you can try making this bumbleberry cheesecake.
The week-long celebration of Kwanzaa features traditional African, Caribbean and South American dishes. The holiday culminates with a special feast called Karamu on December 31st, when dinner tables are overflowing with favourite recipes. Corn bread and dishes made with sweet potatoes are especially popular during this holiday. You can try this cheesy take on corn bread, which will make a great addition to your holiday dinner table, or this sweet and savoury coconut and sweet potato mash that uses coconut whipped cream to jazz up the flavour.
Mixing in a few dishes from different holiday traditions when preparing your own dinner table will give your festivities a fresh new twist.
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