The Holiday: Nochebuena(Spain, Latin America, the Philippines)
Nochebuena, or "Good Night," is the celebration of Christmas Eve in Spain and other countries who have been colonized by Spain. It usually consists of a gigantic family meal, after Mass, depending on the country. The country I focused on for this holiday, was the Philippines. The traditional food for this meal is roast suckling pig, but that was a bit much for one person in an apartment to deal with, so I picked some other traditional Filipino foods that I have always wanted to try, but never had a chance to. Researching through the internet and speaking with one of my coworkers led me to feel confident that I had picked out appropriate foods for this meal.
The Food: Lumpia, Pancit, and Suman Malagkit
All of my recipes come from the internet, so I am going to post links to them and share pictures and explanations, rather than type out the recipes here.
First up, is Lumpia.
Lumpia is the Filipino version of eggrolls, and it shows the influence China has had on the Philippines. I have heard about the amazingness that is lumpia for years, but have never had a chance to try it, so I was really excited to make these. I had planned on doing the Philippines when I was doing my Countries of the World project I scrapped, so I had purchased a package of lumpia wrappers several months ago when I was at one of the local Asian markets and they've been in my freezer ever since.
Next up is, Pancit.
Pancit is akin to chow mein, but generally it uses rice noodles instead of wheat noodles. According to my coworker, this dish is pronounced "Pahn-sit," and I'm glad I asked because I was saying it differently. So, now you know too!
Those two dishes made a filling and delicious meal and I was running late that night, so I held off on the dessert until the next day. My choice for dessert was Suman Malagkit. This looks really complicated, but it's actually quite simple. The most complicated step is finding the ingredients. The banana leaves can be found in the freezer section of most Asian markets and I had some leftover from my cities in America project, so I didn't have to buy more. The cool thing is, because they're a byproduct, they're super cheap. They are also gigantic, so be prepared when you work with them that you will be dealing with a leaf that is nearly as tall as you are.
The strip has been used to tie the package together and keep it from opening up in the steamer.
I have never had Filipino food before, and this just makes me want to keep exploring it. I love learning about new cultures through the food they eat. It's a very intimate way to get to know people. Maybe next year I'll have to make some of this for my family's Christmas Eve dinner...! We can call it Nochebuena too!