What to do for Christmas dinner? It depends on where you live


People traveling overseas this Christmas may not find their favorite holiday dish on the menu.

This is because the fare for traditional festivals varies around the world.

To see who’s eating what this weekend, culinary website Chef’s Pencil has created a map showing what it says are the most popular Christmas dishes around the world.

Where turkey is tradition

According to the map, travelers vacationing in the United States, Canada, France, Ireland and the United Kingdom can expect turkey on the table this Christmas.

Those heading to certain parts of South America can too – the map shows that turkey is one of the best Christmas dishes in Brazil, Chile and Peru.

Even so, each country has its own take on how turkey is traditionally served, according to Chef’s Pencil research.

“For example, in Peru, slices of roast turkey are served with a mixture of sour cream, chicken broth, lime juice, jalapeno peppers, fresh cilantro, and cayenne pepper,” the website says. . “In Chile, roast turkey is traditionally stuffed with apples.”

But there’s a similarity: Roasted potatoes are served with turkey “all over the place,” according to Chef’s Pencil.

More countries eat pork

Pork dishes are even more popular than turkey, in terms of the number of countries where both are served, Chef Pencil’s representative Salomea Restea told CNBC Travel.

Pork is the most popular traditional holiday dish in 23 countries, more than the 17 that focus on turkey, she said.

Suckling pig is at the center of the traditional Christmas table in Spain and Cuba, while the Philippines feasts on roast pork, according to the card.

Filipina Marites Rheme Lopez Javier said “no one eats turkey” in her hometown of Bangar, La Union on the island of Luzon. Instead, families buy a live pig to cook at home, or a pre-roasted whole pig, called a “lechon”.

“Lechon is very expensive,” she said, adding that a pig that can feed up to 50 people can cost more than $300.

That’s why “liempo,” or grilled pork belly, is also popular, she said. He can feed 10 people for 300 to 500 pesos ($5 to $9), she said.

Roasted pork also dominates in Haiti, Switzerland and Slovenia, while ham is the favorite dish in Jamaica and South Africa, according to the map.

Julskinka, which translates to “Christmas ham”, is a dish of cold ham topped with mustard and breadcrumbs that is eaten in Sweden, while crispy pork ribs, or ribbe, are served in Norway for the holidays.

In Mexico and other parts of Central America, pork is steamed and wrapped in corn husks to make tamales, according to Chef’s Pencil.

But the pork joint is also another Mexican holiday hit.

“In Mexico, a pork roast will be coated with a generous layer of homemade adobo, a thick chili paste with vinegar or citrus juice, and enriched with the flavors of onions, garlic, cumin and of oregano,” according to the article.

Where other meats predominate

Duck dominates in Denmark and goose in Belarus and Russia, according to the map.

Yet chicken is the favorite holiday dish in Malta and Uganda, it shows. Brazilians also eat Chester chickens, which are larger than average chickens but smaller than turkeys, according to The New York Times.

In the Netherlands, revelers grill a mixture of meat and vegetables at the table during a festive meal called gourmetten.

Italians traditionally eat veal, while Rwandans grill beef and goat for Christmas, the card says.

Other countries prepare a combination of meats for the holidays. Bolivia, for example, has a fondness for picana soup, often made with chicken, lamb and beef flavored with wine and beer.

Rice, fish and prawns

According to the map, stuffed cabbage rolls adorn Christmas parties around the Black Sea, in places like Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria.

It also shows that people in Nigeria and Ghana celebrate around jollof rice – a dish of long-grain rice, tomatoes, onions and spices.

Carp, a freshwater fish, is popular in Central and Eastern Europe, while saltwater cod tops holiday menus in Italy and Portugal, the map shows.

In an article about Christmas in Portugal, the Portuguese for a Day travel site states: “Christmas is not Christmas without cod on the table!”

Sydneysider Paula Williams says Australians feel the same – about prawns.

Crowds gather to buy pre-Christmas prawns at the Sydney Fish Market, which is having its busiest week of the year before Christmas.

James D. Morgan | Getty Images News | Getty Images

“Prawns are essential for Australians for Christmas,” she said. “People line up at fish markets for prawns. The lines are huge – they are huge.”

Since Christmas marks the start of summer, Christmas in Australia is “all about the outdoors”, she said.

“It’s about Barbie, sitting in the sun and swimming,” she said. “It’s too hot to eat turkey.”


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