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What to make for Christmas dinner? It depends on where you live

What to make for Christmas dinner? It depends on where you live


People traveling abroad this Christmas may not find their favorite holiday food on the menu.

That’s because traditional holiday fare varies around the world.

To see who’s eating what this weekend, the culinary website Chef’s Pencil created a map showing what it says are the most popular Christmas dishes around the world.

Where turkey is the tradition

Travelers spending the holiday in the United States, Canada, France, Ireland and the United Kingdom can expect turkey on the table this Christmas, according to the map.

Those headed to parts of South America can too — the map shows turkey is a top Christmas food in Brazil, Chile and Peru.

Even so, each country has its own take on how turkey is traditionally served, according to Chef’s Pencil’s research.

“For example, in Peru, roast turkey slices are served with a melange of creme fraiche, chicken broth, lime juice, jalapeno peppers, fresh cilantro and cayenne pepper,” the website states. “In Chile, roast turkey is traditionally stuffed with apples.”

But there is one similarity: Roasted potatoes are served alongside turkey “just about everywhere,” according to Chef’s Pencil.

More countries eat pork

Pork dishes are even more popular than turkey, in terms of the number of countries where both are served, Chef Pencil’s representative Salomea Restea told CNBC Travel.

Pork is the most popular traditional holiday dish in 23 countries, more than the 17 that focus on turkey, she said.

Suckling pig is the center of the traditional Christmas table in Spain and Cuba, while the Philippines feasts on roasted pork, according to the map.

Filipina Marites Rheme Lopez Javier said “nobody eats turkey” in her hometown of Bangar, La Union on the island of Luzon. Instead, families buy a live pig to cook at home, or a pre-roasted whole pig, called “lechon.”

“Lechon is very expensive,” she said, adding that a pig that can feed up to 50 people can cost more than $300.

That’s why “liempo,” or grilled pork belly, is also popular, she said. It can feed 10 people for 300-500 pesos ($5-9), she said.

Where other meats prevail

Italians traditionally eat veal, while Rwandans grill both beef and goat for Christmas, the map shows.

Other countries prepare a combination of meats for the holiday. Bolivia, for example, has a penchant for picana soup, which is often made with chicken, lamb and beef flavored with wine and beer.

Rice, fish and prawns

Crowds gather to buy prawns before Christmas at the Sydney Fish Market, which experiences its busiest week of the year before Christmas.

James D. Morgan | Getty Images News | Getty Images

“Prawns are pivotal for Aussies for Christmas,” she said. “People queue up at the fish markets for prawns. Lines are huge — they’re massive.”

Since Christmas marks the beginning of summer, Christmas in Australia is “all about the outdoors,” she said.

“It’s about the barbie, sitting in the sun and swimming,” she said. “It’s too bloody hot to eat turkey.”



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