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The Flavour of the Holiday Season

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Each year, as the days become shorter and winter settles in, many of us turn to our kitchens for solace and sanity. And with that, there is no other time of the year where a home’s kitchen is a more celebrated hub than during the holidays. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or even Festivus, the common threads in our holiday traditions center on family and food; the latter being the most popular and appealing aspect of the holidays for most.

For the traditionalist, Christmas is best associated with the imagery of presents, snowmen and jolly old St. Nick but the true favourites of the holiday are found in cookie jars:

– Gingerbread Men & Gingerbread Houses
– Christmas Cookies
– Sugar Cookies
– Lemon Squares
– Candy Canes

But the real flavour of Christmas comes when we sit down to the festive feasts at the dining room table. For many, it’s the eve of the 24th that brings us together at the table, but for most, it will always be dinner on the 25th that tends to start after lunch and end sometime before the clock strikes midnight.

The most popular traditional servings for the Christmas feast include:

– Turkey – with all the trimmings such as stuffing, cranberry sauce, vegetables & mashed potatoes
– Ham & Scalloped Potatoes
– Tortierre
– Roast Beef

For those blessed with the celebration of the 8 days of Hanukkah, the foods and feasts are a bit different from their Christian counterparts. The importance and historical relevance to the use of oil is essential in Hanukkah cooking to commemorate “the miracle”. The Festival of Lights is full of delicious and savory treats:

Latkas: the famous potato pancake is the most popular food symbol for the Hanukkah celebration. Over time, the dressings and the toppings have taking great leaps and bounds. Sour cream, apple sauce or a spoonful of sugar are the most common in North America. Other toppings include smoked salmon (lox) and caviar.

Sufganiyot: or jelly doughnuts, are another stable to the dining experience during the Festival of Lights. A deep fried pastry doughnut filled with either a creamy custard or flavourful jelly? Yes please!

Sugar Cookies: in more recent years throughout North America, simple yet delicious sugar cookies have become staples in most Jewish homes during Hanukkah.

The most lively holidays feast is without question enjoyed by those who celebrate Kwanzaa – a weeklong celebration of food and gift giving. On the 6th night of the celebration comes the Great Feast of Kamanu – an evening filled with music, dance, colour and of course – delicious food. A typical Kwanzaa meal includes an assortment of seafood, meats, beans and rice.

The world is a wonderfully diverse place with an abundance of traditions and cultures. Above is just a sampling of some of the more popular food selections used during select holiday celebrations in North America. Food and family will always be the essentials of the holiday season and each year, as with families, food traditions with continue to grow and evolve.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Contract Testing Inc.