Christmas Dinner, Mexican Style!
Navidad (Christmas) is a time-honored celebration that takes place throughout the world, and has been celebrated every year since 336 A.D., making it one of the oldest celebrated holidays in recorded history. Every culture has certain customs and traditions that are related specifically to this holiday. One of the more popular customs of all holidays has become the meals that are served. If you have never traveled or lived abroad it is easy to think that the customs throughout the world are the same as in your home country. However, there are many differences between countries on how the holidays should be celebrated. The biggest difference is the food that is served on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. If you happen to be spending your Christmas season in Mexico, there are some customary Christmas dishes that you just cannot do without!
- A Mexican holiday is not complete without a large serving of tamales. Despite what many foreigners think, tamales are not usually eaten on a daily basis in Mexico. That is because they are time consuming to prepare. Because of this, tamales are generally eaten on holidays and special occasions. Tamales are cornmeal dumplings that are wrapped in corn husks, and can have a variety of fillings inside.
- Some things do not change from culture to culture. Mexicans also love to have a customary turkey dinner on Christmas Eve. What many people do not know is that turkey dinners actually originated in Mexico. The twist with Mexican turkey dinners is that sometimes the turkey is doused in “mole”, which is a delicious sauce made from ground chilies and a mix of other ingredients.
- Served as an appetizer right before the Christmas Eve turkey is served is a salad dish called Ensalada de Noche Buena. This salad contains a large variety of ingredients, but the most common include lettuce, beets, apples, carrots, oranges, pineapples, jicama, pecans, and pomegranate.
- Another more common Mexican dish during Christmas is Pozole. This is a soup-like dish that is common throughout the year, but has become a staple of Christmas dishes in Mexico as well. It can be made with pork or chicken and is served with lettuce, radishes, avocado and a sprinkle or oregano. It is very easy to get full off just this dish, so make sure you leave room for the more exotic Christmas dishes that are listed below.
- A dish that many foreigners may not be familiar with is called Romeritos. Romeritos are green-leaf vegetables that resemble rosemary. Romeritos are usually served with shrimp cakes and covered in mole.
- A great main course on Christmas is called Bacalao. This dish is originally European but it has become a staple of Mexican cuisine during the holidays. It is sun-dried cod fish that can be stewed with tomatos, capers, olives and potatos.
- No holiday dinner is complete without a tasty dessert to finish it off. Buñuelos are a great fried dessert, that is like a tostada but is sprinkled in sugar and/or covered in syrup. The tradition is that after you finish your bunuelos you make a wish and smash your clay plate on the ground.
- Nothing goes better with dessert than a nice hot drink. Ponche Navideño is a hot fruit punch made with tejocotes, guavas, apples and other fruit and then flavored with cinnamon and piloncillo (like brown sugar but with a molasses flavor). Alcohol can be added….
Despite where you are, or how you are going to celebrate your holidays, you can easily start a new tradition in your family by introducing one of these unique Mexican dishes to your Christmas dinner.