Christmas can make you very happy (Imagine all those kids anticipating the tearing-up-the-gift-wrapper-like-a-madman moment) or can make you quite melancholy…This time around ’tis is not the season to be super jolly for me. On top of missing my family and friends back home, I will surely be missing all our food traditions (and many other Filipino Christmas traditions as Mikey Bustos narrates in the above video) on this season of eating…
Christmas holidays mean a chance to feast on once-a-year served family dishes. I emphasize on the phrase: served only once a year, as we do take this very seriously. So for 11-months of the year, we die in anticipation of the Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve treats.
On Christmas Eve dinner, our entire clan enjoys family recipes of Callos Madrilena: a slow cooked melange of tripe, chorizo bilbao, ox tail, chick peas and peppers swimming in tomato sauce, and chicken galantina: chicken stuffed with ground pork, vienna sausage, and chorizo bilbao. Though the rest of the family does enjoy a dollop of Callos over steamed white rice, I love to have mine in a bowl with a generous sprinkling of Tabasco red pepper sauce then scooped up with a toasted buttered baguette. Christmas happiness in a bowl (plus bread crumbs on my lap)! On the other hand, I enjoy my chicken galantina a bit aged after the whole Holiday rush. I slice it, pan fry it in a bit of butter then squiggle a mountainous squiggle of Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise on top and eat it with white rice. Take note: no other mayonnaise is acceptable! Only Japanese mayonnaise por favor.
On New Year’s Eve, our entire clan dives into an heirloom Cocido recipe, my great grandmother Dona Jacoba Tirona-Paterno’s recipe, which took years before my papa learned to perfect and get a lip-smackin’ approval from my lolo (grandfather) and lola (grandmother). A deceptively simple dish of boiled meats: pork, beef, chicken and chorizo bilbao, boiled vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, cabbage, chickpeas, and string beans, a tomato-olive oil-onion gravy and soup is a reminder of the abundance of blessings the Good Lord has showered upon us in the year that has practically flashed before our eyes. The different cuts of meats with celery, carrots and onions (Any other ingredients I missed? I don’t do the cooking. I only matter during quality control!) are slowly simmered atop a charcoal powered stove for more than 8 hours. This broth certainly invalidates the perception that clear soups are light and, often times, bland. It is rich, not only with flavor and fat (sadly, all the meats’ fat melts away into the broth), but also with perhaps a century’s worth of family history.
With my poor cooking skills and lack of proper kitchen equipment (but more really of the lack of skills and the courage to brave the complicated recipes), I don’t think I would be able to enjoy these once-a-year-holiday treats in Dubai. Harumph! So much for 11-months of waiting…
However, as my friends have been reminding me to enjoy what I have as of the moment, I am now looking forward to the opportunity to start new food traditions with The Husband this holiday season. Sooo which is why I am in search of a whole Chinese style cured leg of ham here in Dubai to pair with the lovely queso de bola (specially made edam cheese for the Philippines) my family sent me. Any leads? Or would a Jamon Serrano be a good replacement for Chinese ham? Hmmmm….
Delirious about delicious,
P.S. I’m halfway through my Project 30!
- Foodie Fridates
- Frank Bruni’s Born Round
- Filipino Breakfast
- Top Chef TV Show
- Chili Con Carne
- Spanish Sardines
- Mila’s Tokwa’t Baboy
- Taho in a cup
- Pipino Vegetarian Restaurant
- Arroz ala Cubana
- Aling Rita’s Isaw stall
- Milk Tea
P.P.S. Too bad I don’t have any photos of our Holiday feasts. After 11-months of waiting, boy, do these treats go down FAST!