Holidays Around the World!

December 22, 2023

Holidays Around the World!

While we may celebrate differently, the holidays are a great time for all of us to gather with loved ones and share delicious food! Last week, our Community Cooking Class theme was “Holidays Around the World.” In this class, we tasted Spiced Hot Chocolate inspired by the popular Mexican and Peruvian drink, made Vegetable Biryani infused with spices popular in India, and finished it all off with Mini Cannoli Bites, inspired by the popular Southern Italian dessert. These classes were a wonderful opportunity to learn about other cultures and cuisines, as well as connect with our own food histories. Continue reading to learn more about these three dishes, as well as other popular holiday dishes from around the world!

Spiced Hot Chocolate: Often a thicker consistency and containing different spices (chili powder, cayenne, nutmeg) than typical American hot chocolate, Spiced Hot Chocolate is a common drink in Mexico and Peru (and many South American countries). In Peru, hot chocolate is almost exclusively drunk during Christmas time – which is actually during the summer in Peru!

Vegetable Biryani: While often associated with Indian cuisine, biryani is a common celebratory dish in many countries and cultures! You may find this dish at Diwali celebrations, a Festival of Lights celebrated in Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism. The festival lasts for five days and celebrates the triumph of light over darkness. While biryani is often made with lamb or chicken, this recipe offers a vegetarian variation full of ten delicious spices!

Mini Cannoli Bites: These delicious bites are an easy and adorable spin on traditional cannoli! Cannoli are a common treat in Southern Italy, and especially in Sicily. Cannoli consist of a flaky pastry shell filled with ricotta cheese and topped with chocolate chips, pistachios, or even fruit. Historically, cannoli were a treat eaten during the Carnival season, which is a Christian festive season before the season of Lent.

Other holiday dishes from around the world:

  • Bánh chưng (Vietnam): Rice cakes made with mung beans and pork. Traditionally eaten and included on family altars during the celebration of Tết, which celebrates the arrival of spring.
  • Mince Pies (England): A sweet pie filled with mincemeat, which despite the name, contains fruit and spices. Mince pies are served during the Christmas season in many countries.
  • Jollof Rice (West Africa): A rice dish filled with spices and starting with a tomato base. Variations on the recipe are a point of pride and competition between many West African countries. The dish is so popular that it is a staple at any celebration, and even earned its own holiday – “World Jollof Day” celebrated on August 22nd.
  • Panettone (Italy): A sweet bread that often contains fruit and is topped with powdered sugar. Traditionally enjoyed around Christmas and New Year.
  • Tamales (Mexico): Meat, cheese, or vegetables served with masa (a dough made of corn) and wrapped in steamed corn husk. Tamales are popular year round and for celebrations in many South American countries.
  • Marens-Kornflexkökur (Iceland): Otherwise known as Meringue Cornflake Cookies, these cookies only require five ingredients – egg whites, sugar, cornflakes, dark chocolate, and vanilla. These cookies are a popular Christmastime treat in Iceland!

No matter how you celebrate, we here at The Kitchen wish you all a joyous and peaceful holiday season - full of delicious food! We look forward to seeing you all back in The Kitchen in the New Year!

By Sophia Orsinelli

JVC Northwest AmeriCorps Nutrition Educator