We all speak Spanish and have that blood that characterizes us as Latinos, but when Christmas arrives, each country has its own seasoning and tradition. There’s nothing like enjoying those traditional Latin dishes that with each bite, take us to the land we were born in.
It brings a smile, revives memories, takes us back to our childhood and some even become nostalgic when a dish reminds them of their mother or grandmother.
Here, I share some of those traditional Latin dishes that we eat this holiday season:
In Mexico, beautiful and beloved, they eat the stuffed turkey, the tasty cod (similar to the Spanish and Cuban vizcaína), shrimp broth, romeritos, pork leg, apple and pineapple salad, tamales, pozoles and don’t forget the churros, the rosca, the punch, the atole and the champurrado.
As a good Puerto Rican, this Christmas in my kitchen there is always the piglet on the stick or the roast leg, the cakes, the blood sausages, the rice with pigeon peas, the chicken soup, the pickled guineítos with or without sweetbreads, the tembleque, the rice with dulce, coquito, Spanish nougat and pitorro.
My Dominican neighbors like to celebrate like the Puerto Ricans and the dishes are similar, although with different names. They prefer the leaf cakes, los moros with pigeon peas (some add coconut for Christmas), the potato salad, the pork “asao en su puya”, roasted turkey, punch, fruit bread, empanaditas and mandarin liqueur.
My Cuban friends celebrate with pork, the yucca with mojo, the fricassee of chicken, congrí, bananas and even nougat.
In Venezuela, the party has hallaca (something similar to the Puerto Rican pastel and tamal), eggnog-style punch, chicken salad, black cake (similar to Italian Panettone), dulce de lechoza (papaya dessert), and ham bread (like a swiss roll or puff pastry).
In Peru, you always savor the baked turkey, Russian salad, panettone, applesauce and chocolate.
My Colombian friends prefer the natilla, buñuelos, tamal, the stuffed turkey, roasted hen (tender hen) and the Colombian pork dish.
In Argentina you can enjoy sweet bread, almonds and Christmas sandwiches, salteña empanadas, tarts, stuffed tomatoes, Provencal chicken, European traditions such as the never-failing nougat and the typical roast that never loses its prominence.
No matter where you live, the important thing is to give thanks, give love to those who have none, be thankful for what you have and do all that sprinkled with the joy that characterizes us all.
Happy Festivities, enjoy!
Doreen Colondres is a celebrity chef. Author of the book The Kitchen Does not Bite. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram @DoreenColondres and visit www.LaCocinaNoMuerde.com, www.TheKitchenDoesntBite.com