Grubstreet San Francisco’s compilation of a dozen international versions of a merry Noël feast remind us that holiday traditions are malleable in approach and meaning. It’s a small world after all. Yet along with all of the novel Christmas feasting rituals, there are also plenty of underlying similarities.
Take for instance the important role of fresh seafood and/or salted fish in many spreads. Janssons Frestelse, or a potato gratin flavored with pickled sprats or anchovies, is a Swedish dish that shares a common spirit with Brazil’s bacalhoada ao forno. This is basically “oven-roasted bacalao with potatoes, peppers, and garlic.”
Christmastime in Japan may be the most surprising, often eschewing home-cooking in favor of KFC—it has become a ritual meal for many families who reserve dinner sets like this year’s fried chicken, salad, and cake combo going for 3980 yen.