At the end of every year, our family get together would not be complete without our traditional Christmas dinner. Most of us were raised by parents and grandparents who loved to cook so our palates have been used to eating good food. Our Christmas dinners then meant Chinese ham coated in sugar, Marca Pina Quezo de Bola, lechon, pancit, fruit salad, and fruit cake.
However, as we got older and having moved to other parts of the world, our concept of Christmas dinners have also evolved.
Although my cousin still prepares Pinoy macaroni salad and ham, living in North America also meant adapting to some of the dishes that are usually served during special occasions. Similarly, our family has evolved from being mostly Pinoys to a multicultural clan so perhaps, the safest way to satisfying our discriminating palates is to go potluck.
Potluck appears to have originated in North America, where bringing food for communal meals go back to the practices of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest of Canada and the United States (also referred to as potlatch, a gift giving feast which has an interesting kinship multicultural origin) or the Irish where anyone who comes to dinner brings food that is meant to be shared.
This practice works well for our family since we all have different needs when it comes to food (halal, vegetarian, vegan) not to mention diet restrictions (e.g., peanut and dairy allergies, no red meat and pork). Despite the seeming complicated food preparation and considerations, the variety of food allows us to learn more about the new members of our family and our new home; let alone enjoy the meals that we share.
For example, my niece’s roasted leg of lamb which she prepared for her husband who prefers only halal food was so delicious! Or my nephew’s soy chicken was so tasty that a lot of us were begging for some more.
For those who were more health conscious, I prepared Pepper Maple Salmon and Sauce while my wife made Apple and Mild Italian Sausage Salad with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette.
For appetizer, my niece prepared charcuterie, a Filo Greek Pastry filled with Brie cheese, caramelized onions and fig jam and mushroom pate, which was too die for!
Of course, my chef nephew did not disappoint the red meat eaters when he cooked his version of Porchetta stuffed with Wild Boar Sausage. The crispy skin reminded me of the lechon of time past, when my cousins and I would then get bits of crispy lechon skin and dip it in liver sauce.
Like most of our recent Christmas dinners, this was truly a feast! We all capped the night with a choice of coffee or tea and traditional Pinoy panghimagas (dessert) such as pitsi-pitsi, leche flan, buko pandan or ginataang halo-halo or North American pastries such as cranberry pie, caramel cake and gingerbread cookies.
Have a Merry Christmas, everyone!