Are your friends and family tired of hearing about your adventures? Quit telling them about your foodie experiences and let them taste test for themselves. Be brave and attempt one of these traditional dishes from unique destinations around the globe.
This year, at Adventure Travel, we’ve created hundreds of unique itineraries to more than 80 countries worldwide. We’ve sent clients to popular hot spot Japan and on traditional Italian sightseeing trips. We've even sent clients all the way to mystical Moldova. Your travel plans have inspired us to learn about traditional foods, we thought we'd share some of the amazing and somewhat interesting Christmas dinner ideas with you.
Christmas isn’t a national holiday in Japan, where less than 1 percent of the population is Christian – but there is one Yuletide celebration they love: KFC! A tricky marketing campaign in the 1970s (Kentucky For Christmas, or Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii) seems to have stuck and now people in Japan order their KFC in advance, and queue around the block to pick up their festive bucket on December 25th.
In the 1970s the Netherlands consumed more cheese than meat – but one of the things that turned that around is the individual gourmet grilling device known as the Gourmetten. Similar to a Korean BBQ or Vietnamese hot pot (because you cook everything on it at your dining room table), the Gourmetten comes with tiny little pans and spatulas for each diner to prepare their own miniature steaks, schnitzels and tiny hamburgers on a searing hot griddle.
According to tradition, the meal for Christmas Eve, La Vigilia, doesn’t contain any meat – it’s all fish and vegetables. This is fitting for most meals served on the eve before a religious festival in Italy: you’re supposed to have a giorno di magro, eating lean to help purify your body before the holiday. One popular dish is eel, fish, octopus, and shellfish and in Rome it’s pezzetti, or fried cubes of ricotta with artichokes, zucchini or broccoli.
In Moldova (between Romania and the Ukraine in Eastern Europe) pork is a popular meal, but not just the meat – the organs, fat and blood. Moldovian people like to eat a lot of fat on Christmas day, and to break it down they also eat a lot of garlic and onion. Along with the pork, sarmale (cabbage rolls) are a popular food – all washed down with lots of red wine and tuica (plum brandy).
5. East Africa
In countries like Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, the hero of the Christmas feast is a roasted goat – the size of the goat is determined by the size of the family. The goat meat is often eaten hot from a charcoal grill and often in one sitting, with some for the person who slaughtered it, and some for the person who cooked it. The Maasai and Kikuyu tribes have a rule that certain parts of the road are for boys and certain parts are for girls.
A smorgasbord is common in Sweden for Yuletide, known as a julbord and often enjoyed on Christmas Eve carries all the classic dishes; ham, pork, sausage, an egg and anchovy mixture (gubbrora), pickled herring, home-made liver pate, potatoes and a special fish, lutfisk, which is normally dried ling or sathe, soaked in water to swell before it is cooked. The ham in Sweden is first boiled, then painted and glazed with a mixture of egg, breadcrumbs, and mustard and no julbord is complete without a dish of Swedish meatballs.
Just after the November 10th Feast of St Martin, farmers work to fatten up their geese to meet the huge Christmas demand – even so, Germany has to import the birds from Poland and Hungary. The goose is traditionally stuffed with chestnuts and then eaten with dumplings and red cabbage. The tradition of roast goose at Christmas goes back to 1588 when Queen Elizabeth I of England ordered everyone to have goose because she was eating it to celebrate the English victory over the Spanish Armada.
Because Egypt still observes the Coptic Calendar (which is based on the ancient Egyptian calendar) the Christmas feast doesn’t happen until January 6th. A popular dish is faata (or fatta), a special stew that begins with the slaughter of a lamb. The meat is boiled with spices like cinnamon and cardamom, then layered with pita bread and rice. It is eaten with a dressing of garlic and white vinegar, or sometimes tomato sauce.
Two of the most unusual Christmas foods come from Iceland – where it’s not weird to be served roasted puffin for dinner. The cute sea birds with the penguin colouring and the bright red and yellow beaks are a delicacy in Iceland and found in restaurants all over the country. They are typically boiled in milk sauce, or smoke. Iceland is the breeding ground for more than 60 percent of the world’s population of Atlantic Puffins.
After attending Christmas Eve or Christmas Day mass, Yuletide dinner with the family is a sacred affair in Peru. Turkey is a popular food for Peruvians, but with their own twist – the birds are often rubbed with cumin, soy sauce, vinegar, lots of paprika, ground black pepper, smoked pepper and oregano. And if you think salad is boring – think again. Salads in Peru are out-of-this-world flavour combinations like beans, quinoa, eggs, avocado, and corn.