Linksmų Kalėdų! (Merry Christmas – in Lithuanian!) In Lithuania, the traditional Christmas Eve meal is called Kūčios, which includes 12 traditional dishes, representing both the 12 apostles and the 12 months of the year. The meal is typically meat and alcohol free, and includes such dishes as herring, kūčia (a sweetened grain dish), sauerkraut, cranberry Kisielius (Kissel) and sweet biscuits known as Kūčiukai in Poppyseed milk. The whole dinner is usually kicked off with the sharing of a Christmas Eve wafer, Kalėdaitis, which is much like a communion wafer. Draugas News has a list of Kucios recipes, as does the Maskoliunas Family project. Beyond the special food, there are other traditions celebrated including putting straws/hay under the tablecloth. The straws are then pulled out, and the state of the straws indicate the fortunes for the coming year.
Kucios Dinner by Send Me Adrift
It’s Christmas Eve, and most people have their menus well-planned. But if you need some last minute inspiration, look no further than the typical Puerto Rican Christmas feast. Our favorite part? Lechon asado as the main centerpiece: a whole roast pig, which we try to get as often as we can! Other typical Christmas Eve or nochebuena dishes are pasteles (filled masa steamed in banana leaves), arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas) and coquito (coconut egg nog). Though Italian food is near and dear to our heart, this kind of feast is a definitely a close second!
Feast of the Seven Fishes by Austin Kleon
It’s Christmas Eve – which means it’s time for the Feast of the Seven Fishes known as “festa dei sette pesci” in Italian or alternatively as “Vigilia (the Vigil).” We posted briefly on this topic previously, but we figured it would be a good time to expand upon it. The Feast of the Seven Fishes originates from the Catholic tradition of not eating meat on the eve of special holy days, where fish would be consumed instead. The tradition has especially caught on in Italian-American communities, and inventive menus including baccala, calamari, lobster, shrimp and more adorn many “7 Fishes” tables.
Along with the requisite assortment of fishes, sides of veggies and Christmastime desserts like struffoli complete the meal. Traditional or not, any fish dish is welcome at a modern-day feast of two fishes in America. Mario Batali has a traditional Italian menu featuring anchovies, clam and mussels. The Bite Sized blog is cooking their way through an eclectic Feast of the Seven Fishes including Oysters Rockefeller. For those among us who aren’t terribly fond of fish, Buzzfeed has a tongue-in-cheek version of the feast featuring Goldfish Crackers and Swedish Fish. We also like Meatballs and Milkshakes‘ take on the meal, opting for a small menu – doesn’t a bay scallop crudo sound nice?