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‘Tis the season to celebrate and what activity can better express that other than eating! You might immediately think of turkey for Thanksgiving if you are from the United States of America. Drinking eggnog could easily put you in the spirit of Christmas. Have you ever wondered what other countries eat to celebrate the holidays?
You might also want to read Weird Ways Filipinos Celebrate the New Year.
Travel experts share the best holiday food from around the world. They recommend you try them the next time you get a chance.
- Chimney Cakes
- Yorkshire Pudding
- Lontong or Ketupat
- Vin d’Orange
- Mince Pies
- Osechi Ryouri
Erin of Erin at Large suggests you to try this traditional treat from Germany:
Lebkuchen is a traditional German treat that fills the bakeries and Christmas markets around November and December. It’s often described as gingerbread in English, but that’s not quite right – it’s very different from what a British or American person would think of as gingerbread. Some of the first recorded mentions of Lebkuchen are from the 13th century in Franconia, now southwestern Germany, around Ulm. These treats are often cookie-sized, shaped into hearts or stars and glazed with sugar or dark chocolate. The cookie itself is soft, and spiced with anise, ginger, cardamom, allspice, cloves and coriander, and often contains quite a few nuts too.
You will see the hard version of Lebkuchen, called Lebkuchenherz, iced with cute messages and images, around Oktoberfest time. The recipes for Lebkuchen vary from region to region of course, with the most famous being the one from Nuremberg which must contain at least 25% nuts.
If you’re lucky enough to be taking in a German Christmas market, look for Lebkuchen in special tins – they make a lovely gift.
Hannah & Adam Lukaszewicz of Getting Stamped shares their favorite:
We’ve been traveling nonstop for the past 4 years and our favorite trip was our Christmas market cruise down the Danube River. Each country had different holiday treats but our favorite was the Chimney Cake which we found available in Budapest, Germany, Austria, and Prague. This holiday dessert is a sweet dough that is wrapped around a rolling pin and then covered in sugar. Then roasted over charcoal. You can get it with different toppings or spreads. I loved having it with Nutella smeared in the middle. It’s the perfect treat to have while you walk around the Christmas markets. We had the best Chimney Cakes in Budapest.
Cherri Megasko of Bucket List Travel Club has this to share from their holiday table:
One of my first trips to England was many years ago when I sampled and fell in love with Yorkshire pudding. It’s not actually a pudding at all in the U.S. vernacular … it’s not even a dessert. It’s a uniquely soft, puffy bread embarrassingly simple to make from four basic ingredients: flour, eggs, milk and fat drippings from a beef roast. (Actually, it can be made with any kind of fat or oil but I use beef drippings.)
Yorkshire pudding is especially popular at Christmastime. As a matter of fact, since I was introduced to it in England, it became a part of my family’s Christmas dinner tradition. Even though our dinner is comprised of many delectable offerings, there’s never enough Yorkshire pudding to satisfy everyone’s cravings. It is by far the most popular item on our Christmas table.
Lontong or Ketupat
Umiko Buhl of Two Worlds Treasures has this to share from her home country of Indonesia:
Literally means soft rice, lontong is a very popular dish in Indonesia and widely served during holiday season like New Year, Christmas, and mostly Eid Mubarak, the Moslem celebration after a month of fasting (note: Indonesia has the most Moslem population in the world).
Lontong is rice cooked in a banana leaf pouch and during Eid Mubarak normally came in the shape of ketupat (a diamond-shaped container of woven palm leaf pouch packed with rice). Lontong or ketupat served with braised chicken cooked in coconut milk, vegetable curry (normally green beans with chopped chicken liver), rendang (cubed beef cooked with spices in coconut milk), egg, chilli paste, and crackers. Because Indonesia is so diverse, depends on what region the longtong or ketupat came from, it can be hot and spicy or just fair. The kind of vegetable used in the dish also different in some regions. Coyote squash, long green bean, young papaya leaf, and jackfruit are also known for lontong or ketupat. Ketupat is denser than lontong.
Now, you can easily find it in restaurants that serve Indonesian food all over the country though it is still a special dish on the table for the holiday.
Umiko is an Indonesian who married an American and lives and raises their son in Texas, U.S.A. They like to travel around Texas, Pennsylvania (where her husband came from), Indonesia, and all the places in between whenever holiday has arrived. Follow them as they appreciate nature and learn about different cultures in Facebook and Pinterest.
Catherine Boardman of Catherine’s Cultural Wednesdays shares how to make this favorite beverage from France:
The British make sloe gin but my French friend assured me that her family Christmas tipple is vin d’orange. To make this you need an 8 litre jar that can be sealed. Once you have tracked down your large jar pour in one litre of Vodka, four litres of white wine and 750 grams of sugar. Chop up 4 oranges and 2 lemons and add to the liquid. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Now leave it for 40 days before straining the whole lot through muslin and decanting into pretty bottles. Cheers!
Catherine Boardman blogs about family travel, Arts, Culture and Books. Read her latest post here. She was a BBC News Producer for 20 years before having identical twin boys and embracing blogging. Follow her adventures in Instagram and Twitter.
Karen of Wanderlusting K tells us about the holiday food of choice in the Netherlands:
In the Netherlands, the food to try during the holidays is oliebollen. This fried ball of deliciousness resembles a donut, but with no hole, and it is often made with raisins. They are often covered in powdered sugar shortly after getting fried. Good to know: they don’t taste very good when cold, so eat it immediately after buying it at a temporary stand around the city. You’ll find oliebollen sold in between November and December, so be sure to try one if you’re visiting the Netherlands!
Karen writes about adventure travel, cultural travel, off the beaten path places, good food, learning about other cultures, and photography. Find out where she is traveling next in Instagram and Twitter.
James of Worldwide Shopping Guide suggests mince pies:
Having tried a few holiday foods from around the world, one of my favorites has to be mince pies from England. Made from pastry, dried fruits, and spices, mince pies are the perfect seasonal treat.
Despite the name, these pastries don’t contain any meat. Once upon a time they did, apparently, although now the mixture is made entirely from preserved fruits. Many recipes do contain suet but, if you’re vegetarian or don’t like the idea of using suet, there are plenty of vegetarian-friendly recipes online.
Mince pies pair perfectly with a cup of coffee or a glass of port, and are often served with a dollop of freshly whipped cream on the side.
James writes about where shopping and travel meet, whether that’s shopping trips to New York, buying spices in India, or shopping tips for expats living abroad. Get more tips from James in his blog like where to buy in Europe for small boutique shopping.
Justine of Wanderer of the World recommends this treat from Finland:
One of the best foods I’ve tried during the holiday season is Piparkakut in Finland. These are a type of gingerbread cookie or biscuit, and are considered very traditional to eat at Christmas time.
Traditionally, they’re shaped like 6-petal flowers, and hints of ginger, cinnamon, cloves and citrus will hit your tastebuds as soon as you eat one. You can’t really get more Christmassy than those flavour combinations!
If you’re going to try one of these biscuits out in Finland, I’d definitely recommend you pair it with a warming mug of Glögi (a type of Finnish mulled wine). Both are delicious together and will definitely help you to get in the Christmas mood!
Justine Cross is the brains behind Wanderer of the World – a soft adventure female travel blog geared towards inspiring others to start traveling the world, whilst partaking in a range of fun activities including skiing, husky sledding and trampolining in caves. You can follow her along on: Instagram and Facebook.
Lena of Social Travel Experiment goes big with this traditional meal from Japan:
The Japanese traditionally don’t celebrate Christmas (nowadays they do though). They celebrate New Year’s as a family holiday, similar to what Christmas is for us westerners. There is one dish (actually, it comprises of a lot of dishes) that the Japanese have been eating for the occasion. It is called Osechi Ryouri.
Each dish has a special meaning to it and they are all packed together traditionally into bento box like lacquer ware.
One of the dishes is Kuri Kinton. Mashed sweet chestnut and sweet potatoes. The golden color symbolizes economic wealth for the next year.
Another is Tazukuri. Baby sardines in a sweet soy sauce glaze which symbolize a rich harvest.
There are about 20 more dishes that make up the New Year’s meal and it is a lot of fun to try each of them and learn about their meaning.
I had my first Osechi Ryouri at my boyfriend’s home and it was quite an adventure.
Lena teaches about Social Travel, the art of exploring destinations from the viewpoint of locals while learning about Culture, History, Food, and Traditions. Learn more by following her in Pinterest and Facebook.
What are your favorite eats to get you in the mood for the holidays? Comment below!
If you want to read more, here is an article by Little Passports about feasts around the world.