‘Tis the season for those warm, fuzzy feelings that surround the holidays – and that, of course, includes the recurring gift of an insatiable sweet tooth that magically presents itself amidst the array of festive foods that show up this time of year.
And in the same way Santa takes on different personas across the world (from Father Christmas in England to Père Noël in France to Sinterklaas in the Netherlands to the Yule Goat of Finland), every country has their own take on the traditional holiday treat as well.
So, in this season of joy, we’d like to introduce our favorite holiday foods from around the world. Like most international cuisine, it gives a delicious nod to the culture and rich history of the country, while satisfying the universal craving for a savory holiday treat.
Here’s quick bite of our 20 favorite international holiday foods:
Mince Pie — England
Filled with dried fruit and spices known as “mincemeat”, this baked sweet has been sprinkled with powdered sugar and served after a hearty Christmas meal for centuries.
Pavlova — Australia and New Zealand
This meringue-based treat features a crispy crust with a soft marshmallowy inside and is typically topped with fruits and whipped cream.
Tourtière — Canada
This holiday meat pie dish originated in Quebec and features a French-inspired minced pork, veal or beef and potatoes.
Toshikoshi Soba — Japan
When they’re not ordering KFC months in advance for the special night (true story), Japanese diners prefer this buckwheat noodles dish served hot in a soup or cold on a bamboo plate.
Pfeffernüsse – Germany
German bakers get twice the fun with this traditional spiced pepper nut cookie – first, how delicious they taste – second, how great they make your house smell.
Latkes – Israel
As Hanukkah is celebrated, these crispy fried potato cakes fried in oil are served alongside sweet sauces like applesauce.
Babka — Poland
This polish Christmas meal of sweet, spongy yeast cake rises to the occasion every season to represent the breaking of a day-long fast on Christmas Eve.
Tamales – Mexico
These little stewed pork meat tamales already come gift-wrapped in corn husks that are always certain to spice up the holiday.
Red Bean Paste Porridge – Korea
Traditionally eaten on winter solstice, this hearty yet sweet meal is made from dried azuki beans with rice cake balls that are made from glutinous rice flour.
Saffron Buns – Sweden
It’s a sharing tradition in Sweden to offer up your warm Christmas saffron pastries that are marked for sweetness’ sake with a raisin in the middle.
Oysters and foie gras – France
Sure, there’s never a dull time to enjoy oysters in France, but the holidays account for half the countries consumption.
Tangyuan – China
During the Chinese holiday of the Lantern Festival, these round dumplings of glutinous rice are stuffed with sweet or savory fillings, boiled and served in a soupy broth.
Hallaca – Venezuela
Imagine a holiday dish that takes multiple people to make and a batch can last a whole month – it’s the Venezuelan take on a tamale as corn dough is wrapped in a plantain leaf and filled with a mixture of meats, olives and raisins.
Sarmale — Romania
With a recipe dating back to the Ottoman Empire, the sarmale dish is a cabbage roll stuffed with beef, pork, onion and rice, then left to boil in tomato sauce.
Eel — Italy
Since meat is typically avoided during the Christmas Eve meal, fish is prevalent force (alongside grapes and legumes) for Italians and the fried eel is a traditional favorite.
Melomakarona — Greece
After a period of fasting that many partake in during the Christmas holiday, this sweet cookie treat that’s dipped in honey and sprinkled with walnuts is a welcome break.
Puto Bumbong — Philippines
Once Christmas Eve services are over, Filipinos line up at the street markets for a taste of this special “purple” rice that is shaped like a tube and served with butter, sugar and shredded coconut.
Bahn Chung — Vietnam
Ring in the holidays with this special-occasion sticky rice cake that features mung bean, pork and various other ingredients depending on homemade recipes.
Empanadas – Chile
Always a staple to the Chilean diet and it’s no different during the holidays as these baked treats are filled with “pino” – a seasoned mixture of ground beef, onions, raisins and black olives – and are sometimes topped with a hard-boiled egg.
Eggnog — United States
Finally, who can make it through the holidays without a rich, creamy mustache that results from drinking this spiced dairy beverage made from milk, cream, sugar, egg whites and yolk?
It’s the most wonderful (and tastiest) time of the year!
So, if all you want for the holidays this year is to try these festive holiday foods – it’s only a recipe and a handful of ingredients away from bringing joy into your life.
As we close out the year, we want to once more thank all of our customers, partners, employees and friends for making this a wonderful year to remember. We appreciate all that you do to make Nikken Foods a success year after year, and we happily raise a glass of Eggnog to our future success together.