I was mostly raised Manila, Philippines until 2008, when our family moved to Vancouver, British Columbia. I already watched a lot of English-language programs so I knew a lot about English language. Now my family is taking a trip back to the Philippines for the next few weeks, so we have to transition back to our Filipino foods, which is great because it’s Christmas.
While we were in British Columbia, my mom made a lot of Filipino meals, which is influenced by traditional Filipino, Chinese, Spanish, Mexican and American food. Sometimes we visit places such as Pippin Restaurant (located at 6113 Fraser Street, Vancouver). When my mom goes out to get the ingredients, we usually use both regular grocery stores to get products like potatoes, pork, chicken, rice and mangoes, then we visit Asian-specialty stores such as T&T to get the ingredients such as certain types of seafood, coconut flesh, bagoong (type of paste, my family commonly uses fermented shrimp paste) and fish sauce.
On Christmas Eve, the food tradition we do is known as ‘Noche Buena’ or in other words, a midnight feast. This usually includes Lechon (roasted pig, used in a similar fashion to Thanksgiving Day turkey), Christmas ham, Keso de bola (ball of edam cheese covered with red puffin wax), macaroni salad, fruit salad, Leche flan (egg yolks, condensed milk, fresh milk and sugar), Crema de fruta (desert made of graham crackers, cream and fruit slices), Lengua Estofada (ox tongue and fried potatoes in tomato sauce), Panella (Spanish dish with pork, chicken, seafood, ham, sausages and veggies) and Embutido ( a meatloaf roll made of carrot bits, hot dog bits and sliced boiled eggs).
Of course, I’m not going to forget examples of some delicious treats: for the sweet tooth; we got the already-mentioned Leche flan (a recipe can be found here), for the vegans; Sweet Macaroni Salad (Recipe can be found here, two recipes down) and for savory lovers; here is Martha Stewart’s version of Paella.
I do have a personal favorite Filipino dish, even though it’s not really a Christmas dish and it’s called Sinigang. I especially love when my mom makes it. It’s made of tamarind powder, tomatoes, onions, eggplant, sometimes spinach and either salmon or pork. It has a combination of heat and a nice spicy kick.
Until then, “Maligayang Pasko!” or “Merry Christmas!” (Maligayang Pasko is “Merry Christmas” in Filipino).
Photo Sources: Wikimedia.org (Feature Photo) and Flickr.com (The roasted pig)