How to Give Your Holiday Dinner an International Twist
With COVID restrictions on indoor gatherings, it means most of us won’t be cooking for a crowd this year. Photo: Anastasia Nurullina/Getty Images
With extended family dinners on hold, the traditional holiday fare of a turkey with stuffing and all the fixings might seem a bit much. But celebrating in a bubble doesn’t mean our meals can’t be festive and memorable. In fact, this might be the perfect time to unshackle yourself from holiday traditions with a spread of globally-inspired flavours.
So from international dinner ideas to tips for tea and dessert, we’ve got you covered with a menu of global fare.
A Taste of Britain
From a cupcake recipe from Buckingham Palace’s royal pastry chefs (released in honour of Queen Elizabeth’s 94th birthday) to scones and other delicacies to libations courtesy of Highclere Castle’s head butler, we’ve got your holiday tea covered.
A Taste of Switzerland
Bubbling fondue, dark chocolate, and a glass of your favourite wine in front of a crackling fire: what could be more cosy? We think a large bowl of Clementines, and possibly chestnuts to roast, would fit in nicely here too.
A Taste of Mexico
Be transported to sunnier climes with this roundup of Tex-Mex inspired recipes. A particular favourite: The Fish Taco and Chili-Cheese Fries, and if you’re so inclined, Mexico’s libation of choice, a Tequila cocktail.
A Taste of Belize
Here, we’re jetting south to the Caribbean country of Belize, on the northeastern coast of Central America. Belize is a country rich in cultural diversity, making for a flavourful medley of foodie creativity.
If you’re looking for easy recipes for Christmas or Boxing Day brunch, you could do worse than whipping up a Mayan breakfast or one of the top Creole must-haves, Fry Jacks.
A Taste of Israel
In Israel, and many countries around the world, latkes are a mainstay dish for Hanukkah. But we say the golden perfection of a crispy, savoury potato pancake is delicious all the time and no matter what holiday you’re celebrating this month.
A Taste of Provence
There are many reasons to love aïoli. From the way it rolls off your tongue — EYE–yo-lee! — to the way it slips down your throat. From the accessibility of its ingredients — garlic, oil, eggs — to its stunning versatility. Here, recipes and tips to capture the ambience of a rustic Provençal meal.
A Taste of Italy
The ancient tradition of eating fish on Christmas Eve dates from the Roman Catholic custom of refraining from eating meat and dairy on the eve of certain holidays, including Christmas.
In modern times this custom has evolved to the “Feast of Seven Fishes” which is celebrated on Christmas Eve. Typically, the feast — popular among many North American-Italians — consists of seven different seafood dishes or one or two different types of fish prepared in seven different ways.
A Taste of the Middle East
With a nod to the traditional turkey feast, these easy recipes give the season’s most popular protein a cultural twist.
A Taste of the Coast
For this delicious crab cake recipe, we turned to world-famous Chef Mark Salter of the historic Robert Morris Inn on Chesapeake Bay, where the river meets the sea, forming one of the country’s largest estuaries, home to countless fish and wildlife, including of course, its famous blue crab.
Give Yourself a Break
If you’re not up to cooking, this is the year to kick up your feet and relax guilt-free — and support local businesses at the same time.
There are a number of meal delivery kit services in Canada — GoodFood, Hello Fresh and Chef’s Plate to name a few — that save you from grocery shopping and measuring ingredients, which means that cooking up a homemade meal (typically for 2-4) is a snap. While menus change weekly, Chef’s Plate, for example, is offering a holiday turkey thyme-rubbed scallopini with apple-bacon stuffing if you want to go the traditional route. Or, if your tastes are more in keeping with the international theme, there’s Cajun Shrimp Tacos and Middle Eastern-Spiced Chicken.
(Tip from Chef Meredith Youngson of Chef’s Plate: Boost flavour to all your sauces, dressings and soups with a dash of Miso and soy sauce or Tamari.)
Or, of course, you can forgo the cooking altogether and take advantage of holiday take-out offerings from your favourite local restaurant or grocery store.
How to Dress Your Best For A Zoom Party
You can take your globetrotting gourmet celebration to the next level by sharing it with friends and family on a video platform like Zoom or Google Meet. Simply decide on a theme, put together a playlist and share recipes —may we suggest a Royal-inspired tea or tropical beach fare for grounded snowbirds? — so you’re eating from the same menu. Or, if you’d prefer to limit your party to one course, you can share an appetizer or dessert and raise a glass together.
Whatever route you decide to go, present yourself in your best light with these tips from Zoomer News (a ZoomerMedia property), including advice for the most flattering camera angles, lighting and backdrops. And as the video points out, there is another benefit to having your party virtually: your laptop or device will let only one person speak at once. If you’re from a family who constantly talks over one another, that’s a Christmas miracle indeed!