Christmas is round the corner and in its spirit, the Estimator introduces you to some local Christmas foods in our native countries.
I don’t really celebrate Christmas, but fortunately, I get to reap all the Christmas benefits because my birthday is very close to Christmas. Since my family does not really follow a Christmas tradition, we just celebrate my birthday. My mom often cooks this Indonesian dish called “nasi tumpeng” during celebrations. Everything about this dish is quite intricate, in my opinion. First, unlike any other dishes, you should serve this on top of a bamboo woven plate layered with banana leaves on top to get that fresh fragrance. Then, you have a large cone-shaped rice stacked on top surrounded with vegetables, meat (chicken, beef, tofu, tempeh, sometimes seafood though very rarely), or any other Indonesian side dishes that one may prefer around the rice. However, my family likes to add a twist to this recipe by adding sambal, an Indonesian chili sauce made from a mixture of chili and other herbs. This is quite contrary to the chili sauce one would normally find at Asian supermarkets. The rice itself, depending on the occasion and preference, could be steamed rice, uduk rice, which is rice made with coconut milk (also quite an integral ingredient in most Indonesian dishes), and yellow rice. Yellow rice is one of my favorite, which essentially is a fancier uduk rice with yellow coloring from tumeric. On the sides, I like very spicy chicken, glazed tempeh, rolled eggs, and terong balado, which is fried eggplants with chili sauce. As you can tell, I really dig spicy food, so during Christmas, when I am back home, I eat as much spicy food as I can before coming back to the Netherlands.
Beautiful Nasi Tumpeng
This is going to be short and not sweet. Like Athaya, my family also does not celebrate Christmas. And like her, I also don't have a sweet tooth. Not to foster stereotypes, but I’ll be eating many spicy things. Biryani is one of them. If you don’t know what that is, you should check it out asap so your life of [insert your own age] years can finally have some meaning.
Being the first person in this order to celebrate good ol’ Christmas, I’ll try and get to the nitty gritties with good detail. First off, there’s plenty of people gathered during the celebration all throughout the week, but considering this godforsaken pandemic, I don’t think my distant relatives might show up. Who knows? Besides, there’s more food for the rest of us anyways, and I don’t intend to share. Speaking of which, unlike traditional Christmas, my family always decides to prepare an Indian spin-off of a few Christmas dishes. In brief, the food served on your plate has every spice you can remember. Though, there is one dish that takes up all the attention and it’s Mommy’s Perfect Chicken Curry. Oh baby, now that is a dish worth all the Michelin stars. You want the recipe? Go ask mom, and GOOD LUCK. There’s our eggnog as well, but that’s usually to make us sound a whole lot better when we sing the carols. THE CAROLS. Best bit of the whole evening; when all decorations around the house and on the tree have come to an end, and the stories of our travels and experiences have turned too dull for the day, there’s always this one uncle in the family who’s finished three quarters of the eggnog ready to become the local Christmas boombox. After that, it’s the quiet patience for the hungry souls and only the pristine sound of cutlery.
I actually like the Christmas decorations before Christmas itself. My family always decorates the tree on the 6th of December. The only rule we have when it comes to the tree is that there should always be at least one chocolate hanging from the tree. So if there is only one chocolate left that you would like to eat, you have to make sure that you have bought new chocolates as replacement. As to the food we like to eat during Christmas, we always have the green beans rolled up in bacon, stewed pears and roasted potatoes. Moreover, we always drink Spoom, which is prosecco in a glass with a scoop of lemon ice cream.
Where I come from, we celebrate Christmas with our extended family on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning we spend with our immediate family. What you eat depends on the region. Where I am from (South-east of Brazil), we eat "rabanada" (a kind of french toast), and panettone variations (an Italian bread). Variations include putting brigadeiro, "doce de leite" and even pistachio paste inside. Choices are endless.
I’m Belgian so we do celebrate Christmas with my family. Usually everyone would come together on Christmas Eve but this year corona unfortunately got in the way of that. Instead, we’re now having a Zoom Christmas! Luckily there are many companies sending out food boxes designed especially for these holidays, so we can all enjoy the same dishes. To avoid technical issues on this special night, we are sending one Zoomer to every grandparent to help out with... Zoom. Zoomers for the boomers. Besides that, we’ll also be wearing the same ridiculous Christmas sweaters which will strengthen our virtual bond even more.
The Estimator wishes you a very merry Christmas!