Holiday Fare? Dare to be Different

Guest Blogger Sara Marie Hogg says you can’t go wrong with traditional holiday fare on the dining table. But good old-fashioned, ethnic American foods, with recipes handed down for generations, offer a great way to experience a little adventure in your holiday meals.

The roads less traveled by deviant forks, the “what ifs”—these are the things that often propel me forward, usually without question, without a second thought.  Traditional holiday dinners—they are delicious to be sure, and usually nap-producing—but what if we did something a little different?

Perhaps for just one holiday we should eat a different kind of meal.  If you want to search the Internet for a list of the most unusual foods of the world, you just might lose your appetite and we don’t want that.  (You are searching now, right?  See what I mean?)

If you are not able to jet about and sample some of the world’s strangest foods, might I suggest you try some American regional or ethnic cuisine?

Cajun cookery is the first that comes to mind: Gumbo, Jambalaya, crawdads, andouille sausages, frogleg etouffee, and, yes, some fried alligator tail.

Speaking of fried, next would be Southern Fried, with chicken, catfish, chicken fried steak, okra, black-eyed peas, grits, hush puppies and try some fried chicken livers/gizzards with that, now—cream gravy on all.

Tex-Mex would warm any chill you might have in your bones, especially the jalapeno poppers—various kinds of enchiladas, tacos, sopapillas, and don’t forget the menudo for a hangover and cabrito.

Tex-Mex reminds me of Texas which reminds me of barbecue.  A wonderful spread of barbecued delights would be a nice change of pace.

Italian, maybe?  I have been in many homes where a fifteen-pound casserole of lasagna was served along with traditional holiday fare.

How does a heaping bowl of boiled cabbage dressed with butter and Caraway seeds sound?  Try some German-inspired food, with potato pancakes, applesauce, schnitzel, roladen, spaetzle.  The adventure food in this menu would be bloodwurst.

A Cape Cod inspired menu of chowders, seafood, brown bread and Boston Baked Beans might hit the spot—raw oysters for the adventuresome.

A luau, perhaps, complete with poi?

Scandinavian, with lefse, pickled herring and lutefisk (dried cod treated with lye)?

My genetic code requires that I mention a Scottish meal (whilst I was “coming through the rye”): braised beef or lamb, Scottish eggs, heaping bowls of buttered barley and haggis for the Bravehearts.

Breakfast for your main meal is a possiblity: exotically-filled omelets, bacon, ham, sausage, hash browns, grits, gravy with toasted bread and pastries.

     A buffet of “appetizers only” might appeal to you.  They always have appealed to me:

     In my usual style,

     I went down by the dam

     Right there by the water

     Where Japanese lanterns swing

     On fishy river air

     And saxophones

     Wail in the moonlight,

     Bats do their twirling mating dance

     On Citronella fumes


     “I want to partake of your

     Special Hors d’ ouvere Feast,”

     I say to the waiter,

     For two hours I enjoy the delight:

     Baby back ribs, lobster, shrimp,

     Oysters on the half-shell

     Abalone, alligator tail,

     Rattlesnake filets,

     Fine black caviar on flatbread,

     All knocked back

     With something dark and liquid-y

If you cannot find a grandmotherly-type who will invite you over for some regional or ethnic dishes, or if you do not live near a city where you can partake of these foods on-site or carry out, I suggest that you make your own.  Plan ahead.  You can find recipes and ingredients on the Internet (stick to the five-star recipes with easy-to-find ingredients).  I have always thought Chinese food would be tasty, but you would probably have to go to China for the Bird’s Nest Soup.

Holidays are about creating memories, and I guarantee this would be one.  (plop, plop, fizz, fizz)

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