Traditional recipes

Holiday Food Customs Across the Country

Holiday Food Customs Across the Country

From coast to coast, see what's gracing tables this holiday season

Take a journey through these holiday customs

Gingerbread cookies and roast turkeys may be universal symbols of the American holiday season, but they don’t adequately represent the fact that each region of the United States has its own holiday food traditions. As the holidays approach, our unique food customs reflect the cultural traditions that have made this country the melting pot it is. Originating from immigrant communities or a region’s seasonal specialties, holiday food customs across the United States are as varied as our country’s vast geography, and just as eclectic as our diverse, multiethnic heritage.

For Ohioans, a holiday party would be incomplete without a platter of buckeye candies beneath the tinsel and lights, while in New Mexico, the spiced sugary cookies bizcochitos are a staple at most Christmas celebrations. Often, a holiday food tradition develops from the region's immigrant heritage, like the German holiday food festival in Chicago or the Cuban pig roast on Christmas Eve prepared by many Floridians, Cuban and non-Cuban alike. Just as often, these food customs bleed across regional borders and influence cultural communities across the country.

It would be impossible to cover the countless American food traditions in a single article, but we've gathered some of our favorites to help get you in the holiday spirit. However you celebrate, we hope this list will inspire your own traditions into the new year. And it never hurts to put a new spin on an old custom, so use this list to enrich your current feasts, maybe by roasting your turkey in the Hawaiian kalua style or adding the Midwest’s lefse bread to your holiday buffet.

What holiday food customs does your family practice? Feel free to share with The Daily Meal community in the comments below.

Have Fun Learning English

British Food

British Cuisine | History | Today | Regional Specialities | Puddings etc. | Breakfast Bangers and Mash | Bubble and Squeak | Fish and Chips Sunday Roast | Steaks | Cheese | Sandwiches | Indian Food | The Future Recipes Page | Interesting Sites | Fun Food Facts

With dictionary look up. Double click on any word for its definition.
This section is in advanced English and is only intended to be a guide, not to be taken too seriously!

British Cuisine!

Yes, we do have a wide and varied cuisine in Britain today, no more do we suffer under the image of grey boiled meat! After years of disparagement by various countries (especially the French) Britain now has an enviable culinary reputation. In fact some of the great chefs now come from Britain, I kid you not!

However Britain's culinary expertise is not new! In the past British cooking was amongst the best in the world. Mrs Beeton is still one of the renowned writers of cookery books, her creations have now gained international popularity, years after her death.

Traditional British cuisine is substantial, yet simple and wholesome. We have long believed in four meals a day. Our fare has been influenced by the traditions and tastes from different parts of the British empire: teas from Ceylon and chutney, kedgeree, and mulligatawny soup from India.

A brief history

British cuisine has always been multicultural, a pot pourri of eclectic styles. In ancient times influenced by the Romans and in medieval times the French. When the Frankish Normans invaded, they brought with them the spices of the east: cinnamon, saffron, mace, nutmeg, pepper, ginger. Sugar came to England at that time, and was considered a spice -- rare and expensive. Before the arrival of cane sugars, honey and fruit juices were the only sweeteners. The few Medieval cookery books that remain record dishes that use every spice in the larder, and chefs across Europe saw their task to be the almost alchemical transformation of raw ingredients into something entirely new (for centuries the English aristocracy ate French food) which they felt distinguished them from the peasants.

During Victorian times good old British stodge mixed with exotic spices from all over the Empire. And today despite being part of Europe we've kept up our links with the countries of the former British Empire, now united under the Commonwealth.

One of the benefits of having an empire is that we did learn quite a bit from the colonies. From East Asia (China) we adopted tea (and exported the habit to India), and from India we adopted curry-style spicing, we even developed a line of spicy sauces including ketchup, mint sauce, Worcestershire sauce and deviled sauce to indulge these tastes. Today it would be fair to say that curry has become a national dish.

Among English cakes and pastries, many are tied to the various religious holidays of the year. Hot Cross Buns are eaten on Good Friday, Simnel Cake is for Mothering Sunday, Plum Pudding for Christmas, and Twelfth Night Cake for Epiphany.

Unfortunately a great deal of damage was done to British cuisine during the two world wars. Britain is an island and supplies of many goods became short. The war effort used up goods and services and so less were left over for private people to consume. Ships importing food stuffs had to travel in convoys and so they could make fewer journeys. During the second world war food rationing began in January 1940 and was lifted only gradually after the war.

The British tradition of stews, pies and breads, according to the taste buds of the rest of the world, went into terminal decline. What was best in England was only that which showed the influence of France, and so English food let itself become a gastronomic joke and the French art of Nouvell Cuisine was adopted.

British Cuisine Today

In the late 1980's, British cuisine started to look for a new direction. Disenchanted with the overblown (and under-nourished) Nouvelle Cuisine, chefs began to look a little closer to home for inspiration. Calling on a rich (and largely ignored) tradition, and utilising many diverse and interesting ingredients, the basis was formed for what is now known as modern British food. Game has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity although it always had a central role in the British diet, which reflects both the abundant richness of the forests and streams and an old aristocratic prejudice against butchered meats.

In London especially, one can not only experiment with the best of British, but the best of the world as there are many distinct ethnic cuisines to sample, Chinese, Indian, Italian and Greek restaurants are amongst the most popular.

Although some traditional dishes such as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, Cornish pasties, steak and kidney pie, bread and butter pudding, treacle tart, spotted dick or fish and chips, remain popular, there has been a significant shift in eating habits in Britain. Rice and pasta have accounted for the decrease in potato consumption and the consumption of meat has also fallen. Vegetable and salad oils have largely replaced the use of butter.

Roast beef is still the national culinary pride. It is called a "joint," and is served at midday on Sunday with roasted potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, two vegetables, a good strong horseradish, gravy, and mustard.

Today there is more emphasis on fine, fresh ingredients in the better restaurants and markets in the UK offer food items from all over the world. Salmon, Dover sole, exotic fruit, Norwegian prawns and New Zealand lamb are choice items. Wild fowl and game are other specialties on offer.

In fact fish is still important to the English diet, we are after all an island surrounded by some of the richest fishing areas of the world. Many species swim in the cold offshore waters: sole, haddock, hake, plaice, cod (the most popular choice for fish and chips), turbot, halibut, mullet and John Dory. Oily fishes also abound (mackerel, pilchards, and herring) as do crustaceans like lobster and oysters. Eel, also common, is cooked into a wonderful pie with lemon, parsley, and shallots, all topped with puff pastry.

Regional Specialities

Despite recent setbacks beef is still big industry in England, and the Scottish Aberdeen Angus is one of our most famous beef-producing breeds. Dairy cattle are also farmed extensively -- England is famous for its creams and butters and for its sturdy and delicious cheeses: Stilton, Cheshire and its rare cousin blue Cheshire, double Gloucester, red Leicester, sage Derby, and of course cheddar.

Some of our more interesting dishes include:-

Beefsteak, Oyster, and Kidney Pudding: Oysters may seem unlikely in this meat pudding, but their great abundance in the Victorian age and earlier eras inspired cooks to find ways to incorporate them creatively in many different recipes. This steamed pudding combines the meats with mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and Worcestershire, then wraps the whole in a suet pastry.

Black Pudding: invented in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis black pudding is often served as part of a traditional full English breakfast.

Cock-a-Leekie: This Scottish specialty can be classified as a soup or a stew. It combines beef, chicken, leeks, and prunes to unusual and spectacular ends.

Crown Roast Lamb: The crown roast encircles a stuffing of apples, bread crumbs, onion, celery, and lemon.

Eccles Cake: Puff pastry stuffed with a spicy currant filling.

Hasty Pudding: A simple and quick (thus the name) steamed pudding of milk, flour, butter, eggs, and cinnamon.

Irish Stew: An Irish stew always has a common base of lamb, potatoes, and onion. It could contain any number of other ingredients, depending on the cook.

Likky Pie Leeks: pork, and cream baked in puff pastry.

Mincemeat: Beef suet is used to bind chopped nuts, apples, spices, brown sugar, and brandy into a filling for pies or pasties - not to be confused with minced meat!.

Mulligatawny Soup: What this soup is depends on who is cooking it. Originally a south Indian dish (the name means pepper water in tamil), it has been adopted and extensively adapted by the British. Mullitgatawny contains chicken or meat or vegetable stock mixed with yogurt or cheese or coconut milk and is seasoned with curry and various other spices. It is sometimes served with a separate bowl of rice.

Syllabub: In the seventeenth century, a milkmaid would send a stream of new, warm milk directly from a cow into a bowl of spiced cider or ale. A light curd would form on top with a lovely whey underneath. This, according to Elizabeth David, was the original syllabub. Today's syllabub is more solid (its origins can also be traced to the seventeenth century, albeit to the upper classes) and mixes sherry and/or brandy, sugar, lemon, nutmeg, and double cream into a custard-like dessert or an eggnog-like beverage, depending upon the cook.

Trifle: Layers of alcohol-soaked sponge cake alternate with fruit, custard and whipped cream, some people add jelly, but that's for kids.

Welsh Faggots: Pig's liver is made into meatballs with onion, beef suet, bread crumbs, and sometimes a chopped apple. Faggots used to be made to use up the odd parts of a pig after it had been slaughtered.

Welsh Rabbit (or Rarebit): Cheese is grated and melted with milk or ale. Pepper, salt, butter, and mustard are then added. The mix is spread over toast and baked until "the cheese bubbles and becomes brown in appetizing-looking splashes" (Jane Grigson in English Food, London: Penguin, 1977).

Westmoreland Pepper Cake: Fruitcake that gets a distinctive kick from lots of black pepper. Other ingredients include honey, cloves, ginger, and walnuts.

Pies, Puddings, Buns and Cakes

Pies and puddings are related phenomena in British culinary history. Originally, both solved the problem of preparing dinners made with less expensive meats. Pies covered a stew or other ingredients with a crust puddings were made from butcher's scraps tucked into a sheep's stomach, then steamed or boiled. Pies have remained pies, although, in addition to savory pies, there now exist sweet variations, which tend to have two crusts or a bottom crust only.

Pie crusts can be made from a short dough or puff pastry. Snacks and bar food (Britain's fifth food group) are often in pie form: pasties (pronounced with a short "a" like "had") are filled turnovers.

Over time, however, in a confusing development, pudding has become a more general term for a sweet or savory steamed mixture -- as well as a word that describes desserts in general. For example, black pudding is actually made with pig's blood. Whereas plum pudding is a Christmas treat consisting of a steamed cake of beef suet (the white fat around the kidney and loins) and dried and candied fruits soaked in brandy. And, of course, one can't forget rice pudding.

Amongst cakes, buns and pastries local delicacies include Bath Buns, Chelsea Buns, Eccles Cakes, and Banbury Cakes.

The Great British Breakfast!

"And then to breakfast, with what appetite you have." Shakespeare

The great British breakfast is famous (or notorious) throughout the world! Actually nowadays it is a bit of a myth, today many British people are more likely to have a bowl of cornflakes or a cup of coffee with a cigarette than to indulge in the wonders of this feast!

However that is not to say that the traditional breakfast is dead, far from it, it's just not often eaten every day of the week. Speaking as a true Brit I occassionally push the boat out and treat myself to the full monty (not to be confused with the film of the same name).

The typical English breakfast is a 19th century invention, when the majority of English people adopted the copious meal of porridge, fish, bacon and eggs, toast and marmalade, that has now appeared on English breakfast tables for 100 years.

The annual consumption in the United Kindgom is 450,000 tonnes of bacon, 5,000 tonnes of sausages and millions of eggs, so you can see the Great British Breakfast is very much alive and well. It has retained its popularity as one of the country's favourite meals, and survived a whole series of eating trends and food fads.

Mrs Beeton would have recommended a large list of foods for breakfast such as, bread, rolls, toast, toasted teacakes, Sally Lunns eggs cooked in various ways fish, baked halibut steaks, fried whiting, broiled fresh herrings, soused herrings, fishcakes, broiled kippers, 'Findon' haddock, sprats fried in butter, fish kedgeree, fried salmon, salmon pie, baked lobster, codfish pie, cod's steak, croquettes of cod's roe, herrings stuffed with fish. Fruit such as stewed figs, stewed prunes, and fresh fruits in season. Game and pheasant legs, brawn, devilled drumsticks, and meat dishes both hot and cold, such as collared tongue, kidneys on toast, sausages with fried bread, pig's cheek, Melton pork pie, ham, galantine, spiced brisket, pressed beef.

So what does the great British breakfast consist of nowadays?

Simpsons in the Strand, a well know (and expensive) restaurant, serves breakfast daily. Their full English breakfast consists of the following:-

The GREAT BRITISH BREAKFAST at 㾹.95 includes:- Toast with jam or marmalade, pastries, fresh orange juice, freshly brewed coffee, a choice of cereals, porridge, stewed fruit or half a grapefruit, The Simpson’s Cumberland sausage, scrambled egg, streaky and back bacon, black pudding, grilled mushrooms and tomato and a daily newspaper (not for consumption).

In addition to the GREAT BRITISH BREAKFAST, for serious breakfast eaters, Simpson's offers THE TEN DEADLY SINS - at 㾻.95 per person this includes: Toast with jam or marmalade, pastries, fresh orange juice, freshly brewed coffee Choice of cereals, porridge, stewed fruit or half a grapefruit The Simpson’s Cumberland sausage, fried egg, streaky and back bacon, black pudding, lamb’s kidneys, fried bread, liver, bubble & squeak, baked beans, grilled mushrooms and tomato.

Guests may also choose from an à la carte selection of classic breakfast dishes such as: Smoked Haddock Kedgeree Poached Finan Haddock Quail’s eggs with haddock Smoked Salmon with Scrambled Eggs Grilled sirloin steak with grilled mushrooms and tomato and welsh rarebit. There is also a selection of plain, cheese, bacon, herb, mushroom and smoked salmon omelettes.

The Sunday Roast

How it all began

In medieval times the village serfs served the squire for six days a week. Sundays however were a day of rest, and after the morning church service, serfs would assemble in a field and practice their battle techniques.

They were rewarded with mugs of ale and a feast of oxen roasted on a spit.


The tradition has survived because the meat can be put in the oven to roast before the family goes to church and be ready to eat when they return.

Typical meats for roasting are joints of beef, pork, lamb or a whole chicken. More rarely duck, goose, gammon, turkey or game are eaten. The more popular roasts are often served with traditional accompaniments, these are:

roast beef - served with Yorkshire pudding and horseradish sauce or English mustard as relishes.
roast pork - served with crackling (the crispy skin of the pork) and sage and onion stuffing apple sauce and English mustard as relishes
roast lamb - served with sage and onion stuffing and mint sauce as a relish
roast chicken - served with pigs in blankets, chipolata sausages and stuffing, and bread sauce or cranberry sauce or redcurrant jelly

Any self respecting Sunday roast should be served with a gravy made from the meat juices.

Bangers and Mash

You might see this on offer in a pub or cafe. Simply put, bangers are sausages, and mash is potato that's been boiled and then mashed up (usually with butter). The sausage used in bangers and mash can be made of pork or beef with apple or tomato seasoning often a Lincolnshire, or Cumberland sausage is used.

The dish is usually served with a rich onion gravy. Although sometimes stated that the term "bangers" has its origins in World War II, the term was actually in use at least as far back as 1919.

Bubble and Squeak

Bubble and squeak (sometimes just called bubble) is a traditional English dish made with the shallow-fried leftover vegetables from a Sunday roast dinner. The chief ingredients are potato and cabbage, but carrots, peas, brussels sprouts, and other vegetables can be added. It is usually served with cold meat from the Sunday roast, and pickles, but you can eat it on its own. Traditionally the meat was added to the bubble and squeak itself, although nowadays the vegetarian version is more common. The cold chopped vegetables (and cold chopped meat if used) are fried in a pan together with mashed potato until the mixture is well-cooked and browned.

There are various theories as to the origin of its name, one of them being that it is a description of the action and sound made during the cooking process.

You can even by pre-p repared frozen and tinned versions, but they're pretty disgusting.

Fish and Chips

Fish and chips is the traditional take-away food of England, long before McDonalds we had the fish and chip shop. Fresh cod is the most common fish for our traditional fish and chips, other types of fish used include haddock, huss, and plaice.

The fresh fish is dipped in flour and then dipped in batter and deep fried, it is then served with chips (fresh not frozen) and usually you will be asked if you want salt and vinegar added. Sometimes people will order curry sauce (yellow sauce that tastes nothing like real curry), mushy peas (well it's green anyway) or pickled eggs (yes pickled).

Traditionally fish and chips were served up wrapped in old newspaper. Nowadays (thanks to hygiene laws) they are wrapped in greaseproof paper and sometimes paper that has been specially printed to look like newspaper. You often get a small wooden or plastic fork to eat them with too, although it is quite ok to use your fingers.

Steaks - an American tradition?

When you think about steak America always seems to come to mind, with cowboys and Texan cattle millionaires. However in the past steaks were so British that our elite troops were referred to as beefeaters, you can still see them in their traditional costume at the Tower of London.

The term Porterhouse for a special large kind of steak cuts has nothing to do with porters or luggage carriers but originates from British pubs where a special brand of dark beer, Porter beer, was served, and where a snack consisted of a steak some 2 lbs (about 900 grams) by weight - a single portion for a single man.

British Cheese

Cheese is made from the curdled milk of various animals: most commonly cows but often goats, sheep and even reindeer, and buffalo. Rennet is often used to induce milk to coagulate, although some cheeses are curdled with acids like vinegar or lemon juice or with extracts of vegetable rennet.

Britain started producing cheese thousands of years ago. However, it was in Roman times that the cheese-making process was originally honed and the techniques developed. In the Middle Ages, the gauntlet was passed to the monasteries that flourished following the Norman invasion. It is to these innovative monks that we are indebted for so many of the now classic types of cheese that are produced in Britain.

The tradition of making cheese nearly died out during WWII, when due to rationing only one type of cheese could be manufactured - the unappealingly named 'National Cheese'.

The discovery and revival of old recipes and the development of new types of cheese has seen the British cheese industry flourish in recent years and diversify in a way not seen since the 17 th century.

I have written a quick guide to British cheeses here.

The Humble Sandwich - yes that's ours too!

Where would British be without the cheese sandwich? The origin of the sandwich is as British as it could be. The name refers to the Earl of Sandwich who lived 1718 to 1792. The British have always been keen on betting and gambling, but the Earl of Sandwich overdid it even by our standards. During his gambling days, taking meals was considered by him as highly unwelcome interruptions. He therefore invented a kind of meal not requiring him to exchange the gambling table for the dining table: sandwiches.

Indian Cuisine in the UK

The word curry, meaning 'to spice' has been used since the medieval period. Nowadays, a night out in the pub, followed by a curry, is a tradition in many cities. Ever since the Victorian era, during the British Raj, Britain has been "borrowing" Indian dishes, and then creating Anglo-Indian cuisine to suit the British palate. Back then we came up with kedgeree, coronation chicken and mulligatawny soup, all traditional Anglo-Indian dishes, but they are not that popular today. More recently many varieties of Indian curry of which chicken tikka masala and balti are the best known have been popularised. In fact chicken tikka masala is now considered one of Britain's most popular dishes, you can even buy chicken tikka masala flavoured crisps.

The future

The food industry in Britain is now undergoing major changes. From a resurgence of interest in organic food to the other extreme - genetically modified (GM) food. GM food has so incensed the general public that there have been mass demonstrations against it all over the country.

Genetically modified food

Enough sites found for GM farm trials (13 March 2000)

taken from

Farm-scale trials of genetically-modified (GM) crops look set to go ahead after enough sites were found to carry out the experiments, following a meeting of the Scientific Steering Committee, an independent group overseeing the trials.

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: 'The outcome of the meeting was that there are sufficient sites to allow trials to go ahead. They will be advising ministers next week and an announcement will be made as soon as possible.'

It had been reported last month that the trial site organisers were 'struggling' to find enough farmers to take part. Ministers were said to want about 75 farm-scale trials of GM crops this year to test whether they damage the environment. They need to choose from a pool of 150 farms for the first phase of the three-year scientific experiment.

Peter Melchett, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: 'If these trials go ahead it will be a potential tragedy for the environment. Britain will be bombarded with GM pollen without any regard for wildlife, people, or GM-free farmers. The whole process has been nothing short of genetic tyranny with an almost complete absence of public consultation.'

A Friends of the Earth spokesman urged farmers who had volunteered for the trials to 'think again'. He said: 'Farmers who have signed up for these very large trials should realise that they have also signed up to a packet of potential problems. Issues such as liability for cross-pollination of neighbouring crops and contamination of honey have not been resolved. The main beneficiaries of GM crops could well be lawyers rather farmers.'

Some Interesting Websites for Foodies!

You can find some traditional British recipes from the English magazine on the recipes page. All tried and tested by yours truly.

Another interesting site can be found at // including a great information section.

One of the staples in the English person's diet is cheese, if you don't believe me just watch Wallace and Grommit. This great site is all about cheese: All about cheese


France and England battled over who would colonize the territory of Canada in the late 1400s. The English explorer John Cabot arrived in Newfoundland in 1497. About 40 years later in 1534, Jacques Cartier began his exploration of Canada on behalf of France. By the early 1600s, there were permanent French colonies, and in 1663, New France was established as a territory of France. French fur traders competed with the traders of the Hudson's Bay Company, run by British merchants. Wars in North America, known as the French and Indian wars, were waged in the 1700s. The Treaty of Paris in 1763 ended the armed fighting and established British rule over all of the territory formerly called New France.

In 1846 conflict over the western portion of the United States�nada border was resolved, and the border was set at 49°north latitude. This border has been undisputed every since.

Food and other customs in Canada still carry hints of the colonial influences of England and France. Canadians speak English except in Quebec, where the language is French, reflecting the influence of French settlers. But there are other regional differences in food and customs, too.

Food in the provinces of Eastern Canada shows signs of English heritage, except in Quebec where the influence is French. In the provinces of Western Canada, the cuisine reflects the explorers and settlers, who, like their southern neighbors in the United States, made simple, hearty meals from available ingredients. In northern Canada—Northwest, Yukon, and Nunavut territories—the diet is limited by the short growing season, dominated by preserved food ingredients, and influenced by the native Inuit diet. And along the west coast in British Columbia, immigrants from Asian nations influence food and cultural practices. In Vancouver in the west and Toronto in the east (and in many places elsewhere in Canada), Lunar New Year celebrations were inspired by the citizens of Asian heritage living there, but are enjoyed by many other Canadians as well.

Homegrown Heroes

In the uplifting special, Lidia Celebrates America: Holiday for Heroes, Lidia meets with veterans who reflect on their service. Each discusses their longing to be reunited with family during holidays, the challenges and sacrifices of their work, and the pride they take in having defended our country. Together, they create a distinct image of the diversity of the United States military.

Dr. Donna’s Greens

When Donna Auston, a cultural anthropologist, converted to Islam in 1990, she became the first Muslim in her family. Then 17, she embraced the lifestyle changes associated with her conversion. All of it came easily, she said, even giving up pork, which was a cornerstone of her childhood diet. It wasn’t until her grandmother made a pot of her famous greens, seasoned with ham hock, that Dr. Auston paused. Would she have to give up greens to be Muslim?

“So much of conversion feels like severance,” Dr. Auston said. “Food is identity, memory, connection and emotion. It is more than nutrition or hunger. It was disorienting to even consider giving up greens.”

Dr. Auston couldn’t fathom celebrating anything, let alone Eid, without a pot of her beloved greens, which were served on holidays and always present on Sundays. So she got creative with her substitutes.

Instead of ham hock, she seasons her greens with smoked turkey. For her vegetarian daughter, she seasons with liquid smoke. Her greens are so good, she said, that they’re all she’s ever asked to bring to functions anymore — and that’s just fine by her.


Collard greens (thoroughly washed, stems removed, and chopped)

1 large onion (sliced or chopped)

1 smoked turkey leg or wing (cut into large pieces)

Chicken broth or pan drippings (optional)

Fresh garlic, chopped (amount to taste)

Cracked black pepper (to taste)

Apple cider or white vinegar (to taste)

Once the greens have been prepped, set them aside. Fill a stockpot with enough water to submerge the greens, add the smoked turkey, broth, onions, garlic, bay leaves and the spices.

Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the greens, cover and simmer for about an hour or to desired tenderness. (Taste the greens along the way to judge how the flavor is developing.)

After it is done simmering, turn the heat off and let the greens steep for at least an hour before serving. This allows the flavors to settle. Reheat or cook further if more tenderness is needed. Add vinegar and honey toward the end, and make any other seasoning adjustments to achieve your desired flavor.

Salad is considered a side dish and, even if you order it as a starter, your request will be probably ignored. Seasonal greens can be dressed in something simple and accommodating for everyone, or served with a dressing and cruets of oil and vinegar. Salt an pepper, always.

Meals are generally closed with fresh fruits, often cheeses and coffee. Fruit and cheese, something for everyone.

An entire course is dedicated to local cheeses and fresh seasonal fruit. The cheeses will be whatever is typical of the region.

On the Road Eats: Holiday Dishes Across the Country

Celebrate the season with these Food Network-approved restaurant dishes that will guarantee you a happy holiday road trip. We've got the top festive spots to find eggnog, gingerbread and yule logs galore, stretching all the way from the East Coast to snowy Alaska, for one well-rounded holiday on the road.

Ronnybrook Farm — Ancramdale, N.Y.
Sugarplums may be the traditional dancing vision this time of year, but Alex Guarnaschelli always dreams of eggnog in their place. Her favorite hails from Ronnybrook Farm, where the rich holiday classic is made with a mixture of whole milk and heavy cream straight from the farm's happy cows. The eggnog is spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, and it carries a hint of amaretto that makes it "the perfect holiday drink." Alex suggests adding a splash of bourbon to the intensely creamy sip and advises that you seek it out as soon as the weather turns cold, as this decadent drink is available only during the holidays.

Magnolia Café — Austin
Lured to this popular Tex-Mex joint by the "smell of gingerbread cookies," Guy Fieri couldn't resist ordering up a stack of Magnolia's famous gingerbread pancakes on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The café's owners claim they're open "24/8" and feed a packed house of regulars 'round-the-clock breakfast every day of the year. The gingerbread pancakes are a best-seller with an almost savory quality, as they're made with a combination of coffee, buttermilk and a bevy of spices like ginger and nutmeg. Best of all, this seasonally flavored specialty is available year-round for whenever you're craving a taste of the holidays. Do as the locals do, and work your way through the massive menu one dish at a time, starting with the pancake section, of course.

Pierre's — Bridgehampton, N.Y.
For a Christmas cake that "feels just right at a holiday gathering," Rocco DiSpirito always heads to Pierre's to order a classic buche de Noel. On The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Rocco explains why Pierre's version is best, with its moist and airy sponge cake that's dusted with cocoa powder, smothered in chocolate ganache and molded into the traditional log shape. It's painstakingly decorated with a fine comb, then covered in tiny meringue mushrooms and a flurry of powdered sugar for a final snowy flourish. The experience of each rich chocolate slice is "melt-in-your-mouth indulgent," and the log's party-ready presentation makes it the ideal gift to bring to a holiday bash.

Mindy's Hot Chocolate Restaurant and Dessert Bar — Chicago
On Crave, Troy Johnson visited this hot chocolate haven to sample sippable treats from one of the nation's best pastry chefs. Mindy Segal uses only the finest-quality cacao beans in her kitchen, and she serves seven different kinds of hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows year-round. Her hot chocolate varieties range from silky 72 percent dark chocolate to Mexican, mint and chai-spiced versions, which are served with fluffy seasonally inspired marshmallows as the perfect sidekick. Motivated by local ingredients and contemporary cuisine, the chef continues to churn out inventive spins on the classic cold-weather drink. She even offers her special hot chocolate blends for sale online for those who can't make the trip to Chi-Town's most unique dessert destination during the holiday season.

Collin Street Bakery — Corsicana, Texas
The next time you're cruising through the Lone Star state, keep an eye out for the largest fruitcake bakery in the world. Collin Street makes about one million fruitcakes every year and ships the classic holiday treats far and wide. While you might associate the red and green fruit-festooned cake with the worst of holiday dishes, Marc Murphy vouched for the quality of Collin Street's product on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, saying that its fantastic fresh ingredients "will make you want to try fruitcake again." The Deluxe Fruitcake is made up of local pecans and features pineapples from Costa Rica, raisins from California and cherries from Washington State to achieve the most flavorful cake possible. Molded in the shape of a Christmas wreath, it's both tender and crunchy (unlike the stereotypical fruitcake), and it's filled with colorful, freshly candied fruit. Thanks to Collin Street, fruitcake has regained its good name, so it's finally acceptable to gift this fruit-studded treat to your food-loving family.

Society Bakery — Dallas
This Dallas-based bakery is well-known for its selection of cakes, cookies and cupcakes, but Duff Goldman traveled there on Sugar High specifically to test out the peppermint red velvet whoopie pies. These fluffy cake-and-cookie hybrids blend three different types of cake batter (chocolate buttermilk, strawberry and peppermint vanilla) to create the ultimate festive treat. The vanilla cake is spiked with peppermint extract and crushed peppermints to up the holiday ante, and the three batters are then swirled together and baked into puffy rounds. Whipped cream cheese and butter thicken the rich filling that's sweetened with vanilla and crushed peppermints before being sandwiched between the freshly baked cake rounds. The end result is a perfectly balanced holiday-ready pastry that is most definitely kid- and Duff-approved.

The Dillard House Restaurant — Dillard, Ga.
The fried country ham at this Southern spot is so addictive that Alton insisted it would be his last meal of choice on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Dillard House has been preparing its hams the same way since 1917, preserving them solely with salt and hanging them to dry in the traditional fashion. Alton sings the praises of the "intensely salty" resulting ham that's fried in bacon grease and brown sugar before being served with a cup of strong coffee. He describes the flavor as both buttery and nutty, with a hint of fruit and a primal sweetness that "makes you glad you're a carnivore." To enjoy the experience as he does, sidle up to the family-style table at Dillard House, order the famous fried ham, and soak up the cozy atmosphere and Southern sense of hospitality as you dig into this meaty holiday fare.

Cookie Jar Restaurant — Fairbanks, Alaska
Guy journeyed far up north to the land of the midnight sun to seek out this mom-and-daughter baking empire where they're churning out traditional holiday treats on a grand scale. The Cookie Jar is known for its wintertime cookie selections from snickerdoodles to gingersnaps to snow balls as well as its famous cinnamon rolls that are "the size of a manhole cover." This time of year, those rolls get a holiday upgrade when they're shaped into massive cinnamon roll Christmas wreaths. The dough uses potato flakes for a tender and spongy texture and requires a "king-kong sized rolling pin" to tame each giant batch. A hefty coating of cinnamon and brown sugar covers every inch of the dough before it's formed into a wreath, baked and slathered with a thick vanilla glaze. Guy had only one response after tasting the warm and gooey local favorite: "Holy moly."

Valerie Confections — Los Angeles
For a holiday gift that tastes as good as it looks, head to Valerie Confections and ask for the rose petal petit fours. These cheerful tiny cakes feature multiple layers, including a dense vanilla bean cake and a rose petal ganache made with white chocolate, passion fruit puree and dried rose petals. The creamy bites are doused in a thick white chocolate glaze and crowned with a candied rose petal as the finishing touch. On The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Sunny Anderson described these sweets as "perfect for mailing and perfect for eating," and she said there are as many ways to eat them as there are layers. Like Sunny, you might want to order an extra box of these treats for yourself so you don't devour your friends' Christmas gifts before you can mail them.

Sift Cupcake & Dessert Bar — Napa, Calif.
The owners of this cupcake-centric dessert bar boast a three-time winning record on Cupcake Wars, having defeated opponents with their creative cakes in multiple themed challenges. Their most merry creation, a gingerbread-zinfandel cupcake, can now be found on the shop's menu and brings to mind the flavor of holiday gingerbread cookies. This treat combines a wealth of warm spices like ginger and cloves with dark molasses for a moist and aromatic cake base. The cupcake is then capped with a zinfandel buttercream frosting that adds a hint of cherry as a sweet complement to the spicy gingerbread. Be sure to scoop up a box of these Christmas goodies on your next visit to wine country, and experience some of the very best cupcakes on the West Coast.

Francois Payard Bakery — New York
In the ultimate holiday Throwdown, Bobby Flay challenged world-famous pastry chef Francois Payard to a buche de Noel bake-off. The classic French cake is rolled in the shape of a yule log and served at Christmastime as a traditional dessert. Bobby couldn't have picked a tougher opponent in this Throwdown, as Chef Payard is known as "the king of buche de Noel," a specialty he serves at his own bakery for only five days of the year during the Christmas season. Chef Payard's elegant buche de Noel begins with chocolate mousse and hazelnut dacquoise (similar to a sponge cake but made with meringue), which is layered with hazelnut cream and crispy wafers, then coated in a rich, shiny dark chocolate glaze. The master baker raises the buche bar even further by decorating his with gold leaf and French macarons for a modern presentation that complements the velvety layer cake within. Plan ahead and order Chef Payard's holiday masterpiece well in advance to ensure that your Christmas table is set with the best buche de Noel available this side of France.

The Lucky Cupcake Company — Pipersville, Pa.
A Cupcake Wars veteran, this company is known for its experimental flavors that take on the spirit of the season. Lucky Cupcake specializes in filled cupcakes and offers three different sizes to accommodate any sweet tooth. Inspired by seasonal spices, the fall and winter menu features pumpkin spice, apple pie, gingerbread and eggnog cupcakes. The eggnog cupcake captures the rich and silky quality of the holiday drink with vanilla cake that's soaked in eggnog and topped with fluffy vanilla meringue. The shop also encourages cupcake customization, allowing each customer to create the perfect flavor combination or turn a favorite seasonal flavor into a full-size cake for sharing.

Fran's Chocolates — Seattle
When searching for the perfect holiday gift, Bobby Flay always turns to the Coconut Gold Bars at Fran's Chocolates. As he said on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, "if it tastes good, it's a good gift," and he covets these gold bars so much that he's been known to finish an entire box himself. Fran is one of the best-known artisanal chocolatiers in the country and took inspiration from her favorite childhood candy bar when she created this treat. Though small in size, her bars make a big impact with a rich coconut ganache that's spiked with sugarcane rum and studded with plumped coconut. Almonds line the top of each bar that's then enrobed in a special house blend of dark chocolate. Bobby says they're "dangerously addictive," and he looks forward to the arrival of a "box of golden deliciousness" every year when the holidays roll around.

The Aerie Restaurant and Lounge — Snowbird, Utah
After a long day on the slopes, head to this mountainside lounge to thaw out with specialty après ski drinks. Bobby Flay ordered the Hot Raspberry Kiss cocktail during his wintry visit on Food Nation the drink combines homemade hot chocolate with vodka and raspberry liqueur. Topped with a snowcap of whipped cream, it's a deeply warming cup of comfort that takes the chill off after a day outdoors. Just a short drive from Salt Lake City, the ski resort is close enough for a day trip, and, lucky for winter visitors, the resort serves its most popular hot cocktail all throughout the season.

For more FN-approved destinations, check out Food Network On the Road.

17 Easter Traditions From Around the World

While decorating Easter eggs, collecting candy from the Easter bunny, and dressing up in head-to-toe pastels is common in Easter celebrations in the United States, countries around the world have their own set of Easter traditions that may surprise you. From having water fights in the streets all across Poland, to reading crime novels in Norway, to replacing the Easter Bunny with the Easter bilby in Australia, what people do during Holy Week or on Easter itself varies from culture to culture and even region to region within the same country.

No matter where in the world you are, every Easter tradition has its origin. In the United States, the holiday traditions began when German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania brought their stories of an egg-laying hare called "Osterhase" with them, The History Channel reported. Children would make nests with where the hare would lay its colorful eggs. Over time, the custom spread across the country and expanded to include Easter morning deliveries like chocolates and other holiday candies. Eventually, Easter baskets replaced the nests, and the Easter bunny replaced the hare, according to History. Easter eggs are likely linked to pagan traditions, considering eggs themselves represent an ancient symbol of new life, which was associated with Spring pagan festivals, the publication reported. In Christianity, the eggs are symbolic of Jesus' resurrection, and decorating them marked the end of the period of penance and fasting that's known as the Lenten season.

Read on to learn how the Easter traditions in 17 different countries around the world came to be.

Celebrating Easter is a weekend affair on the beautiful British island. The festivities begin Friday with the Good Friday KiteFest, enjoyed by locals and visitors alike, according to Go to Bermuda, the island's travel site. People who want to celebrate take to parts of the island to show off and fly their homemade kites, often with bold geometric designs. Throughout the weekend, folks eat codfish and traditional hot cross buns. And on Easter Sunday, Bermudians attend sunrise services held on different peaches across the island.

According to Condé Nast Traveler, Antigua in southern Guatemala covers its streets in colorful carpets throughout Holy Week in preparation for its Good Friday procession. The long carpets are made from flowers, colored sawdust, fruits, vegetables, and sand. They're often covered in scenes that are important to the artists who make them, ranging from religion to Mayan traditions to nature and Guatemalan history.

The Philippines is a mostly Catholic country, so it makes sense that its inhabitants take Easter very seriously. According to DW Akademie, a news site, each year on Good Friday, a few people in the northern Philippines are nailed to crosses to honor Jesus' crucifixion. Though the Catholic Church has frowned upon these practices, it's an annual tradition that brings in thousands of tourists.

Easter celebrations in Mexico vary by region over a span of two weeks: the week leading up to Easter and the week following it. In very devout regions like Taxco, there are physical reenactments of Holy Week, according to Journey Mexico, a local travel company. Another Mexican tradition is the Burning of the Judases in which people make giant Papier-mâché Judases and blow them up with fireworks. On the other hand, The Culture Trip reported that some regions prefer more low-key celebrations, like a silent procession through town or visiting 12 churches in 12 days.

In 1991, Rabbit-Free Australia launched a campaign to replace the Easter bunny with the Easter bilby, or rabbit-eared bandicoot. Why the switch? In Australia, rabbits are widely considered pests for destroying crops and land. Companies now make chocolate bilbies for Easter, according to The Huffington Post, with proceeds benefiting the endangered animals.

In Florence, locals celebrate a 350-year-old Easter tradition known as Scoppio del Carro, or "explosion of the cart." An ornate cart packed with fireworks is led through the streets of the city by people in colorful 15th century costumes before stopping outside the Duomo. The Archbishop of Florence then lights a fuse during Easter mass that leads outside to the cart and sparks a lively fireworks display. The meaning behind the custom dates back to the First Crusade, according to Visit Florence, and is meant to ensure a good harvest.

Children in this Scandinavian country dress up like witches and go begging for chocolate eggs in the streets with made-up faces and scarves around their heads, carrying bunches of willow twigs decorated with feathers. In some parts of Western Finland, people burn bonfires on Easter Sunday, a Nordic tradition stemming from the belief that the flames ward off witches who fly around on brooms between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Pouring water on one another is a Polish Easter tradition called Śmigus-dyngus, a.k.a. Wet Monday, according to, a cultural institution promoting Polish culture worldwide. On Easter Monday, people try to drench each other with buckets of water, squirt guns, or anything they can get their hands on. Legend says girls who get soaked on Wet Monday will marry within the year, The Culture Trip reported.

Don't forget a fork if you're in this southern French town on Easter Monday. Each year a giant omelet is served up in the town's main square, according to Atlas Obscura. And when we say giant, we mean giant: The omelet uses more than 15,000 eggs and feeds up to 1,000 people. The story goes, when Napoleon and his army were traveling through the south of France, they stopped in a small town and ate omelets, the publication reported. Napoleon liked his so much that he ordered the townspeople to gather their eggs and make a giant omelet for his army the next day.

On the morning of Holy Saturday, the traditional "pot throwing" takes place on the Greek island of Corfu, Reuters reported. People throw pots, pans, and other earthenware often filled with water out of their windows, smashing them on the street. Some say the custom derives from the Venetians, who on New Year's Day used to throw out all of their old items, the publication noted. Others believe the throwing of the pots welcomes spring, symbolizing the new crops that will be gathered in the new pots.

According to Visit Norway, Easter in the country is a popular time to read crime novels and ski. The tradition is said to have started in 1923 when a book publisher promoted its new crime novel on the front pages of newspapers. The ads resembled news so much that people didn't know it was a publicity stunt, so it received massive attention. And so the tradition was born.

On Good Friday, the Pope commemorates the Way of the Cross, beginning at the Colosseum, BBC reported. People attending the procession hold candles and make their way around the amphitheater and up to Palatine Hill, stopping 14 times along the way to represent the 15 Stations of the Cross. Mass is celebrated on the evening of Holy Saturday, and on Easter Sunday, thousands of visitors congregate in St. Peter's Square to await the Pope's blessing from the church's balcony, known as "Urbi et Orbi" ("To the City and to the World").

On Holy Thursday in the Medieval town of Verges, Spain, the traditional "dansa de la mort" or "death dance" is performed, according to the official website of Costa Brava, Span's coastal region where Verges is located. To reenact scenes from the Passion, everyone dresses in skeleton costumes and parades through the streets. The procession ends with frightening skeletons carrying boxes of ashes. The macabre dance begins at midnight and continues for three hours into the early morning.

For over 130 years, the White House has hosted the Easter Egg Roll on its South Lawn. The main activity involves rolling a colored hard-boiled egg with a large serving spoon, but now the event boasts many more amusements, like musical groups, an egg hunt, sports, and crafts.

"Sprinkling," a popular Hungarian Easter tradition, according to Hungary-based website ItsHungarian, is observed on Easter Monday, which is also known as "Ducking Monday." Boys playfully sprinkle perfume or perfumed water on girls after getting their permission to do so. Young men used to pour buckets of water over young women's heads, but now they spray perfume, cologne or just plain water, and ask for a kiss. People used to believe that water had a cleaning, healing, and fertility-inducing effect.

Taking place in the city where it is believed Jesus was crucified, Christians celebrate Good Friday by walking the same path Jesus did on the day he was nailed to the cross, according to Tourist Israel, a tourism company. Taking note of his pain that fateful day, some of those who participate carry a cross with them in remembrance. On Easter Sunday, many pilgrims attend a church service at Garden Tomb &mdash the area it is believed Jesus was buried.

In Prizzi, Sicily, "the Abballu de daivuli is a representation of devils from locals wearing terrifying masks of zinc and dressed in red robes," according to The Telegraph. Those dressed in costume pester as many "souls" as they can (which really means making them pay for drinks) before the afternoon when the Virgin Mary and the risen Christ save the day by sending the devils away with angels.


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Easter is when eggs are hidden and found in the snow more often than not. Spring is here, but it’s hard to tell sometimes. Fresh herbs, peas, and lamb are the flavors of the day, to remind us that the summer will come, eventually. There are many different recipes for Easter breads from Germany and Austria.

Ecumenical holidays abound as well. There are the Shützenfeste (sharp-shooting contests with accompanying festivals) in the north, Kermis (carnivals) on the Rhine, Wine Festivals all through the South. Fathers’ Day on the Day of the Ascension is a national hike for men. All of these days have their special foods and, of course, special drinks.

8. Paschtéit or Bouchée à la Reine

Paschtéit or Bouchée à la Reine are puffy, large pastry cases that are filled with chicken and mushroom, and mixed together with a creamy or béchamel sauce. The case and contents are actually cooked separately. You typically make the pastry by cutting two circles in rolled out puff pastry, cutting a hole in one of them, then stacking the ring-shaped piece on top of the disc-shaped piece. You then cook it and fill it with a variety of sweet or savory fillings, before popping a little pastry lid on top. Bouchée à la Reine is traditionally a classic French starter for a special celebration, however, some people in Luxembourg enjoy it as a main dish.

Make your own

  • Practice this simple recipe for six people
  • Or try this helpful recipe with step-by-step photos
  • Learn about the origin of this adorable dish


Starchy, nourishing chesnuts may have been one of the earliest foods eaten by humans, and unlike many traditional Christmas foods, they weren't a rare luxury. Chestnuts grow wild and have been used historically as a subsistence food. Their humble nature may be key to the Christmas connection: on Martinstag, or the Feast of St. Martin, the poor receive a symbolic gift of chestnuts for sustenance.

This recipe for Marrons Glacé (candied chestnuts) delivers a new take on the classic roasted chestnut and makes it a gift worth giving to family and friends. This French recipe takes many days to be made, but the end result belongs in the window display of a true patisserie.

Watch the video: Learn Holidays - Truly American Holidays (January 2022).