The holiday season is for joining family and friends around the table to participate in one of America’s favorite pastimes – eating. Tender turkey, tart cranberries and mashed potatoes whipped to perfection are all part of the traditional American Thanksgiving and Christmas spreads, but holiday food traditions around the world are a bit more adventurous. Learn more about our favorite Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Hanukkah food traditions across the globe.
Hanukkah is celebrated with a variety of foods with cultural and religious significance, but one of the most beloved is latke. This crispy, golden potato pancake is made from grated Yukon gold potatoes and onion, pan-fried using olive oil and served hot, topped with sour cream and applesauce. Chag Sameach!
Neapolitan legend says there are 365 different ways to cook baccala, also known as salt-cured codfish – enough to enjoy a new recipe every day for a year. But Christmas Eve is the night most Italians dine on this holiday food. Italian regions prepare this holiday food tradition using different techniques: in Venice, baccala is served with onions, anchovies and milk; in Rome, it’s fried, and then simmered in tomato sauce with olives, capers and pine nuts. One element is the same throughout Italy: baccala is an undeniably delicious – and relatively low-oxalate – holiday food tradition.
Pavo, guajolote or turkey – a bird by any other name would taste as delicious. Before turkey became the go-to Thanksgiving meat, Aztecs were feasting on this bird regularly. The Mexican version of the traditional American turkey, known as Pavo Relleno de Navidad, is stuffed with a sweet and savory low-oxalate mix of pork, raisins, apples, and for an extra kick, jalapenos.
For Venezuelans, cooking holiday food is a family affair. Hallaca, a recipe handed down from generation to generation, is corn dough stuffed with a mixture of low-oxalate meats pork, beef, chicken plus raisins and olives, and then wrapped in a plantain leaf. This perfectly steamed pocket can take up to 3 days to make, even with a multitude of helpers in a family-run assembly line. The work is valued immensely for Venezuelan families, who believe it isn’t Christmas without hallacas on the table.
New Year’s Eve
Celebrations for Le Reveillon, the French name for New Year’s Eve, are rich and festive, and the food reflects it. The menu includes oysters – half of France’s annual oyster production is consumed during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day – and they take different forms. Oyster Stew and Oysters Rockefeller appetizers are two of many ways to serve these French holiday food tradition delicacies – and are both part of a low-oxalate diet.
No matter where your holiday travels take you, you’ll be able to enjoy the world’s holiday food traditions – or try some new ones during your holiday celebrations.