Sometimes preparing the same spread year after year for your annual Yuletide feast can begin to feel a little lack-luster—like that old Christmas garland you finally had to throw out last year—it just doesn’t have the same brilliant flair anymore.
To spice up your holiday menu this Christmas, why not look for inspiration from traditions across the globe?
With so many different ideas to choose from, you can put together a whole menu of fantastically delicious and unique dishes that are sure to wow your guests, as well as fill their bellies. You’ll also have the opportunity to share and explain holiday staples from other cultures across the globe.
It will be a great way for you and your guests to travel the world without leaving your table.
Here are some ideas to help you on your way to a multi-cultural, culinary experience.
Italian & Russian Appetizers
Begin with a pre-dinner glass of Prosecco—an Italian bubbly similar to champagne from the Veneto region, perfect for kicking off festivities.
Show your guests to a delicious spread of Zakuski, a selection of cold appetizers before the big feast. In Russian, Zakuski literally translate to ‘little bites.’ The choices are numerous and range from salmon or beluga caviar to pickled mushrooms. Get creative!
First Courses from France & Malta
Add some Mediterranean flavors to the next dish on your menu by offering two rich, decadent choices from France and Malta. The Coquilles Saint-Jacques traditionally filled with scallops, cream, mushrooms and topped with Gruyere cheese will easily win over your taste buds. You’ll want to eat more than just one!
Then, serve up a little bit of sweet and hearty with the Maltese cocoa-chestnut soup, Imbuljuta tal-Qastan. This sweet soup-like drink is normally served after midnight mass in Malta, but you can use it to warm up just before the main event of your cultural feast.
A Traditional Main with a Brazilian Twist
Dress up your typical Christmas turkey with a Brazilian marinade from their typical Ceia de Natal – or Christmas Turkey Feast – that just screams ‘fancy.’ You’ll bathe your bird in champagne (of all things!) lime, various spices and bacon. It sounds just too good to be true.
Scrumptious Sides from Finland, Denmark, Zimbabwe & the Dominican Republic
You’ll obviously need some delectable delights to accompany your fancy champagne turkey, and you have a kaleidoscope of choices at your fingertips. Try the traditional carrot casserole, porkkanalaatiko, from Finland. This dish is a creamy mixture of carrots, rice, brown sugar and butter. It will definitely satisfy any fans of the more traditional sweet potato pie.
Rødkål, a sweet and sour red cabbage dish from Denmark, is normally served hot alongside the main dish on Christmas Eve. It is a delightful side to accompany your Brazilian turkey and Finnish carrot casserole, and has just right amount of sweet from the Elderberry juice, with a punch of sour from the vinegar.
Looking to add a starch to your very international meal? Try sadza, a staple year round and on the holidays in Zimbabwe. It is made from corn meal, similar to polenta and commonly mixe with various relishes and cabbage when served. So, it would go perfectly with the Danish cabbage already on your menu.
Get a little green on your plate as well with this fresh and tasty option from the Dominican Republic. The ensalada verde is a salad made up of lettuce, onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes. A simple dish, but always a delicious addition to a meal.
To Die for After-dinner Drinks & Desserts from Puerto Rico, Italy, Great Britian & the USA
At this point, you are more than likely close to bursting at the seams. But, make sure you save room for dessert! To close out your international feast, here are two pairings of after-dinner drinks and unique, sweet treats from around the world. Having a little selection will allow all of your guests to find something they enjoy.
Coquito & Panettone
Coquito is Puerto Rican eggnog made with cream of coconut, evaporated milk, and white rum. This comforting and sweet drink would pair well with the traditional Christmas sweetbread in Italy, called Panettone. Often bough from the local bakery, the panettone has a drier, spongy texture and is covered in nuts and raisins, a great match for the sweet, milky finish of the eggnog. If you’re feeling adventurous, you may even want to try your hand at making your own panettone from scratch!
Wassail & Pecan Pie
If you favor a more fruity taste to your after dinner hot-toddy, you’ll want to try the spiced drink, Wassail. The origin of this mulled cider has roots going back into medieval times in Great Britain. Its made with apples, berries and cloves, and takes the name ‘wassail’ because it was often drank during the activity of wassailing – a ceremony that was celebrated to guarantee a good apple harvest in the next year. Its spicy fruity flavor is a tasty companion to the traditional American pecan pie – because what would Christmas be without pecan pie?
No matter your taste buds, there will be something for everyone to enjoy, and it is guaranteed to be a unique experience. Congratualations! You survived your food tour around the world
Happy Holidays! xo