The holiday season gives us a lot of reasons to be happy or sometimes, chubby.
Christmas parties, Noche Buena and some get-togethers are surely on our list of things ‘to do’ this holiday season. And what else could be the highlight of these parties besides Christmas itself? Whether we admit it or not, we look forward to whatever food will be served on the table. That, and the people whom we celebrate Christmas with, are definitely some of the reasons why Christmas is known as the season to be chubby.
The Filipinos are known for their love of food especially during special occasions like Christmas. There are a lot of ways wherein we tend to spend so much just for the food itself. May it be through catering or preparing these foods on our own, there are quite a few staple dishes that are always present in a lot of families’ menus during Christmas. Here’s a list of the most loved treats during the holiday season:
Puto Bumbong. Commonly eaten after attending the Simbang Gabi, this purple colored rice cake is very popular to people of all ages. It is cooked in bamboo tubes and is placed over steamers. To make the eating process more special, puto bumbong is placed on banana leaves then it is topped with butter, grated coconut, and sugar.
Bibingka. Often bought together with Puto Bumbong, bibingka is a star on its own. It is a yellow colored rice cake and is traditionally made from rice flour, eggs, milk and sugar. Covered with banana leaves, bibingka is then cooked in a special clay pot placed over live coal. Bibingka is often topped with butter, salted egg, cheese and grated coconut. This food actually looks like a pancake with the consistency of a puto.
Ham/Hamon. Hamon is also known as the Christmas ham because people commonly buy and sell it during the Christmas season. Usually, there is quite a variety of hams that are sold during the holiday season but the most common ones are the hamon de bola and the pear shaped ham. It is usually glazed with pineapple juice to achieve the sweet taste and mouthwatering effect when served.
Queso de Bola. This ball of cheese that is wrapped in red wax is usually paired with hamon. Aside from eating it with hamon, queso de bola is also paired with crackers or pan de sal. Queso de bola is made from partly skimmed milk from cows or goats, and is usually salty.
Lechon. Lechon is actually popular all year round especially during special occasions. It is also known as roasted pig and is often served with an apple on the pig’s mouth. For the more affluent people, they usually buy lechon as a whole, but for those who are on a budget, it can be bought per kilo. Lechon is often paired with gravy but for the Lechon Cebu, it is paired with vinegar and fish sauce.
Leche Flan. One of the most loved desserts in the country, this caramel topped custard is something to look forward to this holiday season. Leche flan is made from eggs and milk and one can’t simply resist its sweetness. This dessert could even serve as a gift to your colleagues and friends!
Castañas. Castañas, also known as roasted chestnuts, is actually a staple and favorite food during Christmas. Stalls that sell these are found all over especially in malls and outside churches. It is best served when newly roasted and hot.
Fruit Salad. May it be fruit salad or buko salad, this dessert is always present during the holiday season. It could actually be made from fresh fruits or those in cans that are often found in the grocery. Just add some milk, cream and cheese and its ready! Other families tend to add corn and other fruits as well, but one thing’s for sure: the fruit salad is not that expensive and is easy to make.
Since Christmas happens only once a year, it is appropriate to celebrate with our family and friends. Why don’t we set aside the stress that we’re feeling and live our lives to the fullest even for just a week? Let us forget all those diets and enjoy the food that awaits us at the parties that fills up our schedules. Besides, those parties and shopping sprees could help burn all the calories away anyway. But always remember to watch our health by eating just the right amount of food and trying not to pig out.
So, did your favorite food during the holiday season made it on the list? If not, feel free to share them here! – Rachelle Belaro