Six Traditional Dishes to Celebrate the Holidays

By- Kelli Drummer-Avendano

1. Crusty Corn Bread

During Kwanzaa, many families enjoy dishes that come from important places in the African diaspora, such as Africa, the Caribbean, and South America. These dishes include hearty soups and stews, and nothing pairs better with them than cornbread. What’s more, it’s easy to make and very versatile. You can find endless recipes online, so choose the one that works best for your family. For a twist, prepare it with cheese, buttermilk, sour cream, or cracked black pepper. To get a golden crust, be sure to add extra melted butter to the batter before pouring it into the baking pan.

2. Ambrosia

A sweet way to end a feast is with a dish referred to in Greek mythology as the “food of the gods”—ambrosia. Ambrosia is like a fancy fruit salad that can be made with different tropical fruits or with whatever you have on hand. To make this meal’s end extra special, use mango, papaya, star fruit, and passion fruit. You’ll need plenty of whipped cream, and toasted coconut flakes provide just the right amount of crunchy texture when sprinkled on top.

3. Potato Latkes

Traditional foods served during Hanukkah are often fried in oil to commemorate the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days. In this holiday favorite, shredded potatoes are combined with grated onions, flour, eggs, and salt. You form the mixture into rounded disks and fry them in oil. The outcome is a simple yet delicious potato pancake that’s crispy on the outside, but warm and soft on the inside. They are scrumptious just on their own, but it’s customary to serve them with applesauce, sour cream, and chopped green onion. 

4. Honey Doughnut Holes

Another popular food eaten during Hanukkah is the sufganiyot, which is a delicious jelly doughnut. These are a little tricky to prepare, however, unless you have more than a basic knowledge of baking. But don’t despair; honey doughnut holes are much easier and just as sweet. Once you make the dough, pipe the balls using a large pastry bag with a large tip to get a uniform size. They take four to five minutes to fry, but it’s worth it! You can glaze them with plain honey or mix honey, orange blossom water, and cardamom for a more exotic taste.   

5. Rosca de Reyes

Three Kings Day is celebrated on January 6 and commemorates the visit the Magi made to baby Jesus. Possibly the most recognizable food from this celebration is the Rosca de Reyes, a circular sweet bread that most resembles a fruitcake. The base of this bread is a traditional yeast dough to which you add dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, apricots, cherries, or figs. The top of the bread is decorated with sugar paste, colored sugar, more dried fruit, and nuts. Traditionally, a dried bean or a small plastic figurine in the shape of a baby is hidden in the dough. The person who gets the piece with the hidden figurine is crowned king or queen of the party! 

6. Lechón 

Lechón Asado, or roasted pork, is a very popular main dish in Latin America. It’s served on special occasions and wouldn’t be forgotten on Three Kings Day. What makes this dish special is the marinade for the meat. If you look online, there are as many marinades as there are cooks, so just choose the one that uses the spices your family likes. For example, the Cuban marinade combines cumin, sour orange juice, and garlic—a tasty combination fit for a king!

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