Enjoying International Holiday Food Traditions

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November 4, 2013

The holidays are one of my favorite times of the year.  Not only do I enjoy spending extra time with friends and family, I enjoy all of the different holiday food traditions.  Each country or ethnicity seems to have their own holiday food traditions.  Since my family is a bit of a melting pot, I’ve tasted a variety of different traditions over the years – depending which side of the family we were visiting.

International Holiday Food Traditions


My Grandmother came over from Quebec, Canada when she was six years old so we always enjoyed the traditional meat pie called Tourtière. Tourtière contains finely diced pork, veal, beef or venison along with spices like cinnamon, cloves and allspice. It is a dish that my mother makes each year still for my father and is one of my favorites. It’s a rather lengthy process to make from scratch so I have only made it once myself.

Mince Pie.

My mother’s ancestors are British so each holiday we enjoy mince pie.  Traditionally, mince pie is made with meat and has dried fruits and spices added to it. Unlike the tourtière, mince pie is sweet instead of savory.  Many mince pies today have only the minced dried fruits and no meat.  Either way, I love them both.


The tradition of serving fruitcake at the holidays dates back hundreds of years. Originally, it was a way to show off your wealth since the addition of dried fruits was quite expensive.  Not everyone enjoys fruitcake but it is one of my favorite holiday treats.


My Uncle married an Italian woman and one of my fondest Christmas memories is visiting their home as a child and sampling all of the Italian Christmas cookies and desserts. I don’t think I have ever seen the variety of sweets they offered anywhere else.  Panettone is a holiday bread made with nuts, raisins and other dried fruits.


Eggnog is an American tradition that dates back to the 1700s.  It’s a rich, creamy drink created from eggs and often spiced with nutmeg. Today, most people purchase it pasteurized from the grocery store but it is possible to make your own.

Yorkshire Pudding.

Another English tradition in my home was Yorkshire Pudding.  I was still a teenager when I learned to make these on my own.  Traditionally, Yorkshire pudding is a puff pudding that is cooked in the same pan as a prime rib.  It can also be made in individual muffin pans.  The batter *puffs* over as it cooks and the center is hollow. It’s a very lightweight savory alternative to a biscuit.

These are the international holiday food traditions that I recall from my childhood.  Do you have any that you recall in your family?

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