Calling all my International Foodie Friends! ‘Holiday Express’ Help Please!!

by Holly on November 22, 2010

OK, so here’s the deal.  Aidan’s 1st Grade class is doing a ‘Holiday Express’ of 10 countries around the world.  They will be talking about the countries and their holiday traditions.  I don’t know nearly enough about most of the countries on the list to feel like I can do a good job with making a little treat or food of some kind for the kids for each country…. but I’ve offered to try!  I figure, even if I don’t end up getting to make something for each country, or make it for school, I can only do good by reinforcing the lessons at home in my most favorite way possible – through food.

So, if you know something about any of these 10 countries, have a favorite holiday tradition you can share, a recipe, anything you can, I would greatly appreciate it.  As always, you all rock!

Thanks for any help you can give!





South Africa

Saudi Arabia







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John Burgess November 22, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Holly, Saudi Arabia has only two holidays–or, rather, holy-days. Both are celebrated with feasts that include things like whole lambs or young camels roasted. I suspect that's not the kind of recipe you had in mind.

Here, though, is an accurate recipe from for Saudi Date Sweet. The only unauthentic item is the unsalted butter. Saudis would use ghee, which is something slightly else. It's a not critical difference, just one of authenticity.

Note that the flour doesn't really get a chance to cook. That's intentional.

Joanne November 23, 2010 at 12:40 am

I know in Italy, although santa claus (or babbo de natale) brings presents on christmas, the main day of gift-giving is on january 12th or the Epiphany, which is when the three wise men gave Jesus their gifts to him. It is said that La Befana, or the old witch, comes around giving gifts to the good children and coal to the bad ones.

One recipe that my family always has is one for Italian ricotta cookies. Here's a good one:

polkadotcupcake November 23, 2010 at 7:40 am

Hi! I'm South African, and we follow pretty much the English/Western Christmas (although obviously not Thanksgiving). Because it's summer and hot here over Christmas, many families tend towards colder, easier to prepare Christmas lunches, than the traditional turkey and trimmings.
That said, there are those of us who stick to tradition (I grew up in England, I'm a traditionalist!)

Because of the huge range of influences and the different climate, there are a multitude of ways that South Africans celebrate Christmas. Most of them involving braaing (or grilling/barbeque-ing). People cook turkeys in their Weber braais (kettle-drum, charcoal burning outdoor cookers), and make a wide spread of cold salads, devilled eggs, etc. Each one is quite family specific, from what I can gather.

My (local, South African, Afrikaans) mother in law, makes a salmon mousse for Xmas. If you're interested, drop me a line on my blog with your email, and I'll get it for you!

Allison November 24, 2010 at 7:19 pm

I can't claim to be an expert as I've only lived in the UK for the last five years, but my husband who was born and raised here has the following to say:

On Christmas Eve his family would put out a dram of whiskey for Santa (smart parents!) and a carrot for the reindeer and then hang their stockings. They would wake early in the morning on Christmas and after attempting to wake their parents a few times they would eventually retire to the sitting room where they would open presents. Breakfast on Christmas was toast and tea eaten with carols playing on the radio. Dinner was prepared throughout the day and consisted of a fruit cocktail or smoked salmon starter followed by soup and then the obligatory turkey, brussels sprouts, roasted and mashed potatoes both, peas and beetroot. Dessert would be a choice of fruit pavlova, traditional Christmas pudding with brandy butter, and ice cream followed by a cheese platter.

The rest of the evening would be spent playing games that the kids had got from Santa. The whole family would sit together drinking coffee and eating homebaking: coffee creams, mars bar cake, coffee kisses and his Mum's infamous shortbread biscuits.

On TV around here at Christmas time the Queen's Speech is at 3pm which most families watched. The rest of the day there were Christmas specials and movies playing all day and some families can spend most of the day in front of the telly.

As far as traditional Christmas fare you'll get mince pies, Christmas pudding and, in Scotland at least, shorbread biscuits.

I almost forgot the Christmas Crackers! They sit at each place setting at the table and each contain a joke, a wee toy and a paper crown. The jokes are always, always awful and the same ones over and over. Everyone is meant to wear their paper crowns through the evening but you can guarantee the more vain of the family will accidentally drop theirs in the gravy! πŸ™‚

I hope this helps at least a little!! Best of luck!!

Aussiemuminthekitchen November 24, 2010 at 11:45 pm

I left you a VM. To be honest I'm a little ticked you didn't call me girl! Of course I can help you. Txt me!

Luv ya

Snooky doodle November 26, 2010 at 9:46 pm

oh I m sorry I m not in the list. How is it? Malta is such a big country. πŸ™‚ joking apart. I m sorry I don t live in one of these countries. wished to help. Nice blog by the way. πŸ™‚

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