Christmas day is fast-approaching and Noche Buena (Christmas eve feast) is calling out to you! Yes, the holiday season is one that’s filled with joy, love, and lots of food. Because aside from Simbang Gabi, the Christmas eve feast is one of the highly-anticipated traditions of Filipino families. Oftentimes, this special meal is celebrated inside the house. However, some households could also choose celebrate it outside.
The name–Noche Buena–means the “night of goodness” in Spanish and for Filipinos, nothing is quite as satisfying as a hearty meal consumed in the company of family and friends. With this in mind, almost every Filipino uses his or her 13th month pay to buy ingredients for the special night. In fact, many of these specially-prepared dishes have been a staple to local households since time immemorial. Listed below are the 10 food items that are surely a MUST in every Filipino’s dinner table come Christmas eve.
“Ihaw” and “Tuhog-tuhog” is a popular thing here in the Philippines. In every street and corner of the metro, there would always be a small space designated for vendors to sell isaw (chicken intestines), tenga (chicken ears), adidas (chicken feet), and especially barbecue. These food items are affordable and easy to bring when you’re always on-the-go or you’re rushing to get your Christmas preparations done.
Many of these barbecued viands also come in the form of chicken, beef, or pork and are served with a special sauce or ‘sawsawan’ (dip).
I mean, who doesn’t like graham, right?
Many of our childhood memories are triggered by this particular snack. And when it’s made into a scrumptious cake, we’re all taken back to our past Christmas memories–seriously, who can forget the moment you and your siblings fought over who will scrape the remaining condensed milk from the can?
Composed of layers of graham crackers and condensed milk and topped off with cookies, chocolate, or mango, this dessert is one that could “take you to heaven”– I mean, just the way the milk and crackers melt into your mouth is enough to prove its “heavenly” goodness.
Salad (Buko, Fruit, Macaroni)
One of the best ways to use that can of fruits inside your pantry is to make a salad. Since there is no cooking involved, this is one of the easiest desserts that every Filipino household can make for Christmas.
With the buko and fruit salad, you will just need all-purpose cream, condensada, gelatin, and of course, the chopped-up bits of buko and other fruits.
For the macaroni salad, on the other hand, you’ll need cooked macaroni, mayonnaise, and a few vegetables.
This sweet dessert always completes the table. Made with sugar, eggs, and milk, Leche Flan could be made from home or store-bought and it’s best-served over the holidays.
Noche Buena would not be complete without one of the traditional foods served on special Filipino occasions–ham. Because aside from the lechon (roasted pig) and the hotdog-and-marshmallow-on-a-stick, ham is certainly one of the OGs of ‘handaan’ (banquets) in every Filipino celebration.
“Ha-high blood na naman ako” (I’ll be getting high blood again)–that’s the first phrase you might hear from every adult in any celebration here in the Philippines, where lechon is a must-eat.
Lechon is a Spanish word for “roasted suckling pig” and its a dish that could be cooked in different ways–from roasting it to turning it into the famous after-party dish Lechon Paksiw. Indeed, lechon is very popular in the country and has already become a symbol of celebration for special occasions like fiestas, birthdays, and especially, the holiday season.
Roasted chicken is the answer to most of the tito and tita’s drinking sessions, as this particular food item serves as their ‘pulutan’ (bar food) on Noche Buena.
Cooked with spices and other sauces, the roasted chicken is the ideal dish when you’re sharing food and stories with each other over Christmas dinner.
“Ma, sinong may birthday?” (Mom, who’s birthday is it?) –this is what every Filipino asks whenever he or she sees spaghetti on the table. And it’s true this dish has become a staple in birthday celebrations but it is one that deserves it as it is sweet unlike other spaghettis around the world.
The Filipino-style spaghetti is filled with corned beef or giniling (ground meat), tons of cheese, ketchup, and of course, hotdogs–making it an ideal meal to serve come Christmas eve.
Bibingka and Puto Bumbong
These two food items are associated with misa de gallo, where Catholics go to church every night and after the mass, they’ll purchase these from vendors.
The bibingka is a rice cake, made from galapong and topped with slices of kesong puti (white cheese) and itlog na maalat (salted duck eggs). The newly-cooked bibingka is also spread with butter or sprinkled with sugar and then, served with niyog (grated coconut). While the puto bumbong is a dish made from purple-colored ground rice cooked in bamboo tubes that are placed on a special steamer-cooker. It is also topped off with butter, sugar and and niyog.
Did you know love was formed inside a spring roll packed with pork, beef, and vegetables? This mouth-watering dish tops all the food above because of three things–it’s easy to make, affordable, and most of all, adorable because of its size!
This is a absolute must-have in your Noche Buena celebrations!
InqPOP! Creator Community/ Neshelle Callas/ FM
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