Have you ever wondered how is to spend the Holidays under the heat? with temperatures between 90 and 100º F? Well, that’s the temperatures we are having in South America for Christmas. It’s summer in the south Hemisphere, so Australians, for example, have similar temps, but not the same traditions.
In Argentina, we have a mix of cultures. Food traditions are a combination of native cuisine and immigration influences from Europe. That’s what makes us different from other Latin American cultures. For example, from the Italian migration influence, dishes such as pasta and pizza are part of the everyday cooking. But, since Argentina is a big producer of high-quality beef and has the largest beef consumption rate in the word, the most typical dish is the asado (beef grilled on an open fire pit) from the gaucho heritage.
So, for the Holidays we eat high calorie foods and treats, typical from Italy and Spain, and also native dishes like asado. Seven out of ten Argentineans celebrate at home for Christmas and New Year’s both Eve and Day to eat some of these specialties: parrillada (mixed barbecue that includes sausages and organ meats), pavita (oven roasted turkey), vittel thoné (chilled veal in a tuna sauce) with ensalada rusa (russian salad), lechón (roasted suckling pig), and matambre arrollado (rolled stuffed thin flank). It may vary depending on the part of the country and on the family heritage, but according to a TNS Gallup survey, 64% of Argentineans prefers these cold meats (maybe for the hot temps), followed by asado. Usually these dishes are accompanied with wine (like the Argentinean Malbec!), and by the end of the meal, dried fruits, nuts, pan dulce (pannetone), and turrón are served with champagne or cider (heritage from Spain and Italy). Pan dulce is a Christmas must have, according to 85% of us. Dinner at Christmas Eve must last at least till 12am, to make a toast for Baby Jesus Nativity and also it´s the time when Santa Claus (Papá Noel) drops the presents while fireworks play in the sky.
In these hot days we should eat more lightly, with plenty of fresh summer fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of non-alcoholic beverages. Instead, people tend to have a huge Christmas dinner, unusual for hot summer days. It is something cultural and we as dietitians should encourage moderation, portion control and light options to share in our Holiday table.
How you celebrate in your country? Please share your favorite dishes!
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