How do you celebrate Christmas?
Latin America is astonishingly rich in different aspects: biodiversity, history and, of course, in culture. The celebrations of important dates vary from country to country, each one has its customs; however, the celebration of Christmas is very similar among all of them.
Christmas Eve is celebrated in Latin America in a big way. The streets are adorned with lights of different colors and ornaments made of very varied materials, without missing the Christmas trees of different type and size, decorated in a traditional and creative way. The crowding of people in shops and malls buying presents for their loved ones gives a vibrancy to cities, a feeling that is only experienced during this time of year.
The common feature in these countries is the dinner on Christmas Eve, where recipes inherited by generations and that are part of the identity of each country come to light. It has common elements such as pork and turkey.
Argentina dines on stuffed eggs, melon with ham, empanadas, stuffed rolls and asado.
Brazil serves rice and chicken, and for dessert a Christmas log.
Bolivia tastes picana, a type of soup made with a combination of meats, white wine, chili, raisins, and vegetables.
Colombia includes fritters and custard at their table.
Chile celebrates with Easter bread, a punch made with brandy, coffee, milk, and cinnamon.
Cuba with the congrí (black beans and rice) and the chuchifritos, baked flan and rum cakes.
Ecuador enjoys seafood in sauce and as a dessert pristiños (fried pastries) with figs and cheese.
Honduras celebrates with donuts and curd with panela honey.
Dominican Republic serves roasted pork with Russian salad and gandules (pigeon peas).
Peru celebrates with a turkey or piglet with apple and rice puree, panetón (Italian sweet bread) and hot chocolate.
Panama eats turkey with cane honey and Chinese sauce.
Puerto Rico includes green banana dough cakes stuffed with pork.
Paraguay savors its Chipa guazu, a salty soufflé made of corn and cheese and Paraguayan soup.
Uruguay serves stuffed eggs, beef tongue with vinaigrette and barbecue.
Venezuela enjoys ham bread with olives and raisins, black roast and hallacas (Venezuelan style tamal).
The culture of corn is present at Christmas.
Tamales are always a part of these celebrations, and are enjoyed with different ingredients and sizes:
Costa Rica makes its tamal Tico with white corn seasoned with legumes and pork with prunes.
El Salvador accompanies the baked turkey with chicken tamales along with tomato sauce and olives.
Guatemala makes red or black tamales stuffed with raisins, plums, and olives, and served with a salad of carrots with raisins.
Mexico serves tamales that accompany the romeritos (traditional dish made with seepweed) with mole sauce made with up to 40 ingredients that include five types of dried chiles.
Nicaragua offers its nacatamales made with corn dough, vegetables, olives, rice and pork or beef.
With this variety of recipes and some carols, Latin American kitchens will shine this December 24 for one of the most anticipated family gatherings of the year.