Good Eats: Holiday morsels which will make your mouth water!


The “Feast of the Seven Fishes” is an Italian tradition. This seven course meal is eaten on Christmas Eve throughout Italy.

Sydney Kass, Contributing Writer

December is a month full of major holidays for many cultures, and with this variety comes a wide array of desserts and sweet treats to go with them.  Most people are familiar with classic Hanukkah eats such as gelt and potato latkes, as well as Christmas favorites like gingerbread houses and ham, but there are many other items that deserve just as much recognition.  This year, let’s kick off the holiday season with flavorful food, tasty treats, and delightful delicacies.

The first main holiday in December is the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Latkes, potato pancakes fried in oil, are supposed to symbolize the pure oil, which, according to the Torah, was found after the destruction of the Second Temple and lasted eight nights.  Though the traditional potato latke is still a holiday staple, some families have tried to put a new spin on the classic.  The mac n’ cheese latke, the sweet potato latke, the apple-fritter latke, and the rainbow latke all help to create a tasty, fresh, wonderful holiday.

Next is a holiday that is looked forward to by individuals all over the world: Christmas. In some European traditions– with roots in countries such as Austria, Switzerland, and Germany–goose is eaten on Christmas.  In modern American culture, this may seem unconventional, but just a few centuries ago in Europe, eating turkey would have been too expensive to eat.  For European farmers who could not afford to spend a fortune on one meal, geese were smart, economical, and easy to breed, as well as tasty, which rendered them the perfect holiday meal.

Italy is another region of Europe that has special Christmas traditions.  In the Italian tradition, various pastas, seafood dishes, and desserts are the staples of a traditional Christmas dinner.  The “Feast of the Seven Fishes,” a traditional Italian-American Christmas Eve dinner, can consist of various seafood items: Baccalà (salt cod), baked cod, clams, cod fish balls in tomato sauce, dolphinfish, deep fried calamari, deep fried shrimp, and deep fried cod are just some of the common dishes in this seafood extravaganza.  Pastas such as lasagna, spaghetti bolognese, and ravioli are all go-to dishes come Christmas.  To finish off the feast, people enjoy decadent desserts such as cannoli, tiramisu, and panettone. Altogether, these delicious Italian treats make for a very flavorful and very merry Christmas.

Before you know it, the start of a new year will have rolled around. A unique New Year’s tradition revolving around food can be found in Spain, where it is customary to eat twelve red grapes at the stroke of midnight.  Each grape represents one sweet month.  In some cultures, the red grapes are even supposed to be eaten in the first twelve seconds of the year.  However, this may result in some difficulties getting them down and it is strongly discouraged, as downing a grape a second may be dangerous.  Choking hazards aside, this lovely tradition evokes the warm holiday feelings of family, hope, and luck.

This holiday season, if you feel compelled to veer away from the conventional cuisines, try some of these lesser known foods and start a new food tradition with your family!