photo by Anderson Mancini via FlickrYour little ones are home for winter break, perhaps stuck inside because of bad weather. Or you have out-of-town guests visiting, and many meals to plan. Don’t let holiday stress get you down! Take a culinary journey by trying out these winter holiday dishes from all around the world. Use it as a creative potluck theme, and everyone can join in the fun! Follow up each meal with a storybook from the same part of the world, and your kids will have an experience that nourishes the body and mind.
India – Gulab Jamun
photo by Premnath Thirumalaisamy via Flickr
In India, Diwali is the winter holiday known as the Festival of Lights. One tradition is to give sweets to friends and neighbors. (Find a great Diwali storybook here.) Gulab Jamun, which translates to “rose berries,” are deep fried dough balls covered in rose water-scented syrup. Here is a step-by-step recipe with photos.
Japan – Udon Noodle Soup
photo by Kamatama via Flickr
It’s believed that udon noodles were first brought to Japan from China in the 800s by Buddhist monks. Udon noodles, made from wheat flour, are thick and chewy. They can be served in a variety of ways: cold or hot, with sauce or stir-fried. Its neutral flavor matches well with a variety of ingredients. In Japan’s cold, winter months, hot udon noodle soup is a popular comfort food. If you want to eat your udon the traditional way, don’t forget to use chopsticks, and you can show your appreciation with an enthusiastic slurping sound! Martha Stewart has a recipe for Udon Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms in Ginger Broth.
Mexico – Tamales
photo by lucianvenutian via Flickr
Tamales have been eaten in what is now known as Central America since before 5,000 B.C. They quickly grew in popularity due to their portability and the way they can fill the belly. Made from masa dough that is filled with meats, cheese or vegetables, tamales are wrapped in a corn husk, then steamed or boiled. They are traditionally made during the holidays, because tamales take many hands to assemble, and are cooked in huge batches. Here is a great pork tamale recipe, courtesy of PBS.
Germany – Speckknoedel
photo by Christian Allinger via Flickr
Speckknoedel are the dumplings of Europe’s mountainous Alpine region. They were probably invented and then gained popularity as a winter food because they enabled people to stretch ever-dwindling meat and bread supplies in the cold months. Give this recipe for speckknoedel soup from Food Network a try.
Mongolia – Buuz
photo by Аркадий Зарубин via Wikimedia Commons
Mongolian Lunar New Year, known as Tsagaan Sar, is considered one of the culture’s most important holidays. It is a time of year dedicated to family and feasts. (You can find a great storybook about Chinese New Year here.) Warm meat- and vegetable-filled dumplings called Buuz are a popular and delicious holiday treat. Here is a buuz recipe you can try at home.
Finland – Glögg
photo by Mr. Choppers via Wikimedia Commons
During Yule, Finland’s midwinter holiday season, Glögg is a very popular alcohol drink that is served hot. It is made from red wine and a combination of spices, and can be combined with raisins, blanched almonds or ginger biscuits. This traditional glögg recipe it is sure to warm the spirits of your adult guests.
Give these international holiday foods a try this season, and your family can get a taste of life in another land. Don’t forget to check out our tips to having a Bilingual Staycation, or learn how people celebrate New Year’s around the world.
Comment below and share your favorite winter holiday foods and recipes!