Holidays for everyone
Food is a great gateway to cultural understanding, so what better way to learn about other traditions than by enjoying their food? See what people are feasting on as they celebrate Chanukah, Kwanzaa and Christmas.
Chanukah: the festival of lights
Doughnuts (sufganiyot) and potato pancakes (latkes) are traditional foods because they’re cooked in oil (oil-fried foods are symbolic of the miracle of the lamp oil in the story of Chanukah). The main course is most often a slowly braised brisket or roast chicken–or both. Blintzes, cheesecake, noodle kugels and any sweet fruit dish are also popular.
Hearty, simple dishes are traditional for Kwanzaa, as are recipes that reflect African-American history and African flavors. Recipes include those that celebrate corn, like cornbread or gumbo; recipes featuring beans and rice, like Hoppin’ John or Caribbean rice. Recipes with yams and sweet potatoes can turn up as side dishes or desserts, like sweet potato pie or spicy pumpkin and peanut soup.
Ham and roast beef are both classics for Christmas dinner. Side dishes like candied yams, Brussels sprouts, ambrosia-style fruit salad and potatoes au gratin are definitely popular. Many families also make eggnog and a selection of pies–like pumpkin, apple or pecan.