f you've spent your whole life steeping in the traditions that your family carries on, you may not realize that all over the world, people do things entirely different than what you do. When you sit down for your holiday dinner this year and are about to enjoy the turkey, ham, duck, or vegetarian dish, remember that there's people out there who are sitting down to a pile of buckwheat noodles, or a lamb stew, or salmon pot pie. Here's a rundown of some dishes that are celebrated in other parts of the world.
Not surprisingly, countries around the world may not eat the same things we're used to for the holidays.
Japan: Soba noodles. These noodles are made with buckwheat flour which gives them a rich, nutty flavor that's a ways away from what we know as pasta. This isn't like the spaghetti your mom makes.
Canada: Tourtiere, or meat pie. This dish is like what we know as chicken pot pie, but their version is with ground, minced, or cubed meat—or salmon if you live on a coastal part of Canada. It's served with ketchup or fruit relish.
Phillipines: Bibingka breakfast. This holiday breakfast is a pastry made with rice flour and coconut milk, and is baked in a terracotta pot that's been lined with banana leaves. It's topped with kesong puti, a local white cheese, as well as grated coconut and sometimes a duck egg.
Sweden: Jansson's Temptation. This rich dish is named after Pelle Janzon, a Swedish opera singer. It's a casserole that includes potatoes, herring, onions, cream, and breadcrumbs. Strong flavors for a strong voice, perhaps?
Ethiopia: Yebeg Wot. This spiced stew is made with lamb meat and served with injera, a traditional Ethiopian flatbread that has a flavor sometimes compared to sourdough bread.
Italy: Eel. While you may have heard of the feast of the seven fishes as being traditional for Italians on holidays, plenty of people see eel as the quintessential Christmas meal. Fried, roasted, you name it—they love it. Another Italian favorite is Cotechino de lenticche, a dish made with pork sausage and lentils.
Mexico: Tamales and Menudo. Tamales take the place of our traditional turkey, and are often served with the Christmas-morning soup of menudo, made with tripe and hominy that takes several hours to cook and is often prepared on Christmas eve.
Czech Republic: Fried Carp or Carp Soup. It's another seafood offering, and the common tradition is that if you put a scale from the fish under your dinner plate or into your wallet, that the following year will be prosperous.
While these are just a few countries' traditional meals, there are plenty other ideas out there if you're trying to branch out from your usual. Thankfully (or unfortunately, depending on your experience with it), fruitcake is traditional in some of those countries, too.