Noche Buena and the Top Food Served at a Filipino Christmas Dinner

Only 30 days left before Christmas folks! Aside from decorating the house and shopping for gifts one thing that comes to mind during this season is food! Yes, it’s time to lose your diet again and just dive in to that Christmas table.
Filipino’s are well known to be lovers of food which is evident in every little (or big) occasion there is. Even if the world is experiencing a slump on the economy where we have to tighten our budget on a day-to-day basis, we will still do everything just to have our Christmas dinner table filled with yummy treats and goodies all made to make the tummy round like a bowl of jelly ! (Just like Santa Claus!).
Just for the holiday season, most forget about their diet or eating healthy because most of the food that makes up the list for their favorite’s Noche Buena end up high in cholesterol, fats and sweet. (Watch out for diabetes and highblood — and ofcourse your weight!).
Noche Buena pertains to the Christmas meal after the on the eve before Christmas or December 25 midnight.


How did Noche Buena Started?

The basic Filipino Christmas is Christian since the feast came with the Spanish conquest and Christianization. We borrowed customs from — the Belen, the nine Misas de Gallo or simbang gabi and very especially all the food of celebration.

The language of our traditional Christmas is Spanish: gallina rellenada, pavo embuchado, queso de bola, ensaimada, jamon China/en funda/azucarada, chocolate, uvas, manzanas, naranjas, nueces, turrones de Alicante, membrillo, and more.

This is elite food from Spanish tables, and humbler fare is often carved out of such a feast — a few dishes, humbler adaptations without the olive oil, wine and richness. For most, however, Christmas does not seem right without rosy-pink slices of ham edged with sugar-rimmed fat; or capons stuffed with Oxford sausages, pork, olives, even truffles; or sugary, cheese-sprinkled ensaimadas to dip into thick hot chocolate (“E” for espeso or thick; “A” for aguado or watered); or fragrant apples and oranges.
And how do humbler tables fare? They feature the best they can afford: a chicken, a bit of lechon, and whatever else is good and favored by family tastes and budgets. Here enter native and other related delicacies.

The rice harvest, which occurs about the same time as Christmas, has been celebrated long before with food from the native repertoire: bibingka, suman, puto bumbong, kutsinta, puto maya, minoron — cakes of rice and — eased by the sweet hot taste of salabat or ginger brew — heaven on a chilly night, after a mass with violins and percussion, and a walk through a food-crowded churchyard blazing with star lanterns (parol).

So this is the Filipino input into the Christmas that begins officially on Dec. 16, and should end on Jan. 6, — but does not. It is too much fun to go on giving and receiving gifts, seeing family and friends, singing and putting on religious plays like the “Panunuluyan,” “Niños Inocentes” and “Tatlong Hari,” being on holiday in the spirit, in nostalgia, in the heart.Chinese influences are seen in the festive noodle, the pansit for long life and family sharing.American colonization also made contributions to Christmas: fruitcakes, Santa Claus, cookies and gingerbread men, and wrappers and plays. And so did global winds, wafting into our culture the fragrance and tastes of German stöllen, French bûche-de-Noel, and the British

Whats the top-10 on the table at Christmas? Here’s the most that makes up the list;

1)Puto bumbong (rice steamed inside a “bumbong” or a small bamboo tube) other alternatives includes “bibingka” (rice cake with salted eggs and fresh coconut meat) and “suman” (steamed rice wrapped in banana leaves) that usually is bought outside the church after the Midnight Mass.
2) Lechon or roasted pig

3) Hamon or salted preserved meat

4) Queso de bola (cheese preserved in a wax)

5) Lumpia (shanghai or sariwa)

6) spaghetti

7) salads (macaroni and cheese, fruit salad, ceasar, chicken salad)

8) leche flan (

9) lechong manok (roasted chicken or sometimes fried chicken)

10) pansit (the festive noodles that originally comes from the Chinese influence)

But of course rice will never be off the list, its given on the Filipino plate during every meals. Some would still have the ever trusted menudo, adobo, pakbet, kilawin, papaitan , gulaman at sago on their Noche buena table.
Aside from those yummy cholesterol-guaranteed treats, a touch of booze (or even lots of it) won’t escape the festive meal. The good ole San Miguel beer, a spark of red or white wine, and brandy is just around the corner. For kids there’s the ever reliable fruit juices, iced tea, Coke, ice cream and cakes. But no matter how full or not your table is on Christmas, what’s really important and matters most is that every Christmas most families come together and eat in one table. After all the whole years hustle and bustle, the time apart from each other, the Noche Buena meal is awaited not because of the food on the table but the people we share the blessing for the whole year.

How about you, what’s on your Christmas menu? Any traditional food you serve every year? Share?

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9 Comments

  1. I miss the bibingka and lumpia, it’s not the same here. I remember the first time I had roast pig, it scared me to see it. And the mangos from Cebu are the best (just my opinion)

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