Every place has its favorite foods for the holidays, and Mexico is no different. With so many celebrations with family, friends, and neighbors, food has always played a huge part in Mexico’s traditions. Here are a few of our favorite traditional foods for holiday celebrations.
Tamales have a long history throughout Mesoamerica dating back thousands of years. This very portable food was eaten by the Olmec and Toltec, and later by the Aztec and Maya. Corn has always been an important crop in Mexico, and tamales have a strong tradition as a food for special occasions, often representing life or rebirth. Made with a dough of masa (corn meal) filled with meats, cheeses, vegetables, and salsas (depending on your preferences), and then wrapped in a corn husk and steamed, these savory or sweet packets are the perfect meal or snack at any time of the day. It is one of the most famous Mexican dishes in the world.
Because the preparation of tamales is so time-intensive, it’s quite popular to make it for special occasions or to serve it at special family celebrations. During the Christmas season, It’s quite common to have a party starting early on the morning of December 24th, where many of your family and friends come together to help prepare the tamales for all to enjoy that night (La Noche Buena) for the holiday celebrations.
Chiles en Nogada
Chiles en Nogada is one of the most famous special dishes of Mexico, and is usually served during the Nogada (the walnut season). It’s also a popular festive dish at Christmas. Chiles en Nogada is a traditional dish made with Poblano peppers, stuffed with what is called picadillo – a blend of ground meat mixed with dried fruits and nuts to give the dish sweetness. The chile is then covered in a white walnut sauce (the nogada part of the dish) and topped off with pomegranate seeds for a bit of red. This gives the dish the green, white, and red of the Mexican flag.
This dish was originally created in Puebla in 1821, by nuns who were hosting the visiting Mexican Army General Austin de Iturbide. He had just signed the Treaty of Cordoba, giving Mexico its independence. He was passing through Puebla on his way back to Mexico City, and the nuns and residents of the town presented this as a dish to honor him and Mexico’s independence from Spain. He became President of the Regency and was eventually renamed Augustin I, Constitutional Emperor of Mexico.
Chiles en Nogada has always been considered a Royal treat, and many restaurants today still serve it with great fanfare. Arnie Ortega, owner of 210 Ceviche, has experienced this “Royal Treatment” when he has visited Mexico and ordered this at a restaurant. Before the dish was served, the waiter changed the tablecloth to a black cloth, & laid out special table décor and gold silverware for the meal to be served with. It is truly a dish fit for royalty. Because it is often served on special occasions, it is also a popular food at fiestas and family celebrations during the Christmas holidays as well.
We hope you have enjoyed learning a bit more about our Mexican traditions. Come visit us this season at 210 Ceviche!