The holiday season is finally here!!!
Everyone celebrates this season in their own different ways. Places like Japan and South Korea celebrate Christmas a lot more like Valentine’s Day, it is portrayed as a romantic day for all the couples. While in the Philippines, December 25th is celebrated as the biggest day of the year as it’s a Catholic-majority country.
No matter where in the world you are and what significance this day has in your hometown, one thing that remains constant about this holiday season is FOOD!! It’s the time of the year, where people stuff their mouths with food and eat till they can’t move and obviously get an excuse to have a drink or two.
Here is how different dinner tables are set up across Asia-Pacific during the holiday season.
India’s party capital is all set to turn up the volume this season. It’s probably the merriest place to get the festive feel as the state experiences a peak in tourism this time of the year. The streets are filled with tinsels, carol singers going door-to-door, and giant cribs all out for public display. Goa is rich in those Western traditions.
Goans love their roasted chicken or duck, often dipped in traditional masalas like cafreal and vindaloo. Their feasts also include zesty pork dishes, a few being suckling pig and sorpotel– it’s a spicy Goan stew that’s eaten with Sana, a rice cake that’s fermented in toddy liquor.
Apart from their Christmas plum cake, they have a jaggery-jammed bebinca and also a variety of pastry-based desserts, and a rum-soaked pudding.
Christmas dinner in the Philippines is an hours-long affair. They start early, after a traditional mass in a neighborhood church, families come together for a hearty dinner and a few drinks, taking a few breaks in between for animated karaoke performances.
Their meal includes food that’s brought from roadside stalls famous for puto bumbong. It is a sticky cake that is made with bright purple rice, steamed in bamboo tubes, and then wrapped in banana leaves. It’s normally eaten on its own but a pat of butter and shredded coconut did no harm ever.
Puto bumbong is sold outside church alongside bebinca, a rice cake topped with salted egg and cheese. All this is just pre-game. The formal Christmas dinner also known as “Noche Buena” takes place at midnight.
This has all kinds of hams, Edam, known as queso de bola, roasted chicken, and for those who fancy pork, there is Lechon — a whole-roasted suckling pig.
The night comes to an end with hot chocolate that is paired with local bread roll pan de sal or glutinous rice called suman.
Also Read: Not In India But World’s Oldest Vegetarian Restaurant Still Serves Some Amazing Indian Food
Here Christmas is seen as a romantic date night for couples, but with time even that is changing. The current young generation treats it as a normal weekday– this is good or bad, I will just let them decide.
But even with all this, some do find the time to feast, and when they do they eat KFC chicken, yes, I was surprised myself too. There is no turkey or roast chicken, it is literally just KFC. This tradition began in 1974 when KFC saw an untapped opportunity and launched a Christmas-related campaign slogan: Christmas with KFC.
Japanese Christmas treats also include strawberry shortcakes. The custom of eating chicken and cakes became so popular that now they are sold everywhere during Christmas. It has evolved into this bizarre mix of Western and Eastern dishes.
They also have delivery pizza, paella, sushi, hot pot, sparkling wine, and shochu. As long as the table looks good, I don’t mind what’s there to eat.
Almost like every feast in the country, Naga feasts remain true to their indigenous flavors and ingredients, even though they lack the masalas, they make it up with a Naga ingredient–chilies, lots and lots of it.
Every Christmas, Naga families put together several kilos of meat that is slow-cooked in black clay pots for hours. Their meals are filled with a lot of roasting and smoking of the meat.
A Naga feast will see smoked and curry pork, cooked mostly with chili and bamboo shoot, along with hearty salads to accompany all that meat and some good old rice beer.
Seoul, South Korea
There is no specific “Christmas food in Korea” as they have no special rule or tradition during this season, as many of them celebrate Christmas with their partners, rather than with family. A Christmas meal often means ordering in or eating out at a restaurant.
Young people just rent out party rooms with friends or go out on a romantic date. They do have a unique way of celebration, they still have Christmas as an official holiday which is unusual as Christmas isn’t a recognized holiday in countries like China, Japan, and Mongolia. It’s anyway considered more like a romantic holiday than a religious one.
All of these meals look and sound so full of flavor that I can’t wait to try some out. Let me know in the comments which meal you would like to sit in on.
Image Sources: Google Images
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