The Christmas season isn’t very different in Mexico. It’s also about family, food, and a lot of celebrations. The Mexican people take traditional Christmas foods very seriously and celebrating Christmas is almost a month-long affair in Mexico. Starting with the festivities on December 16, for Posada (when Mary and Joseph searched for a room) and ending on January 6, King’s Day.
Although different parts of the country celebrate food traditions differently, the one thing that doesn’t change is celebrating and having dinner on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, however, everyone enjoys the recalentado – the leftovers from the night before.
Families and friends will celebrate together, with the meal taking center stage. Here are a few of the most popular traditional Christmas foods from Mexico:
These cornmeal dumplings, which have many different delicious fillings, are time-consuming to make. Because of this, you’ll find several family members helping prepare them. Up North, smaller pork tamales are the staple, and in the South, they serve larger tamales steamed with banana leaves.
Ensalada de Noche Buena
Although technically a salad, this is served after Christmas dinner and includes various colorful fruits and vegetables. You’ll find ingredients such as carrots, beets, oranges, lettuce, apples, pecans, and even pineapple.
Bacalao is a dried and salted codfish Christmas dish. It’s made with tomatoes, olives, potatoes, and capers and is considered a very popular, traditional Christmas treat. It can be served as a richly-flavored tomato sauce dish or encased in a soft bread roll.
For a filling Christmas meal, Pozole is at the top of the list. It is also very easy to make in large batches – so it’s perfect for celebrations. It is a soup made from pork and/or chicken in a lightly-spicy, tomatoey broth and seasoned with chili and garlic. It usually comes garnished with lettuce, avo, coriander, lime, radishes, and don’t forget the tostadas!
A fantastic, finger-licking good roasted turkey dish, served with a rich sauce called mole. Known as “Pavo a la Galantina” (which means Galantine Turkey), this traditionally entails deboning the entire turkey and stuffing it with meat, raisins, and almonds. The bird is then poached to perfection. Besides being served at Christmas, it is also sold as cold meat throughout the year to make sandwiches or to serve as hors-d’oeuvres.
For a tasty, hot drink that will warm everyone up on a chilly Christmas Eve, you can expect this hot fruit punch made from hawthorn or tejocotes and cinnamon sticks. Hawthorn looks like crab apples. The drink sometimes will also have guavas, apples, cinnamon, and even cane alcohol added to it.
For something sweet to eat with your Ponche Navideño, these crispy treats that look a bit like donuts are sprinkled with fine sugar or served with a sticky syrup called piloncillo. You’ll find lots of these sold at markets during the Christmas season. Tradition has it that once you’re done, you might smash your clay plate on the ground and make a wish after finishing your bunuelo.
Rosca de Reyes
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, this is just the pastry for you. Traditionally served on King’s Day, you can already find it in bakeries from Christmas time. It’s a sweetened pastry that is festively decorated with caramelized red and green sweets on top. Some places will hide a plastic Jesus figurine inside, which you have to avoid finding. If you do find it, then you have to buy everyone tamales on Candlemas, February 2.
Another steaming hot drink to get you through the cold Christmas evening, Champurrados are creamy and corn-based. A chocolate-based tipple, Champurrados sometimes contain cinnamon, anise seed, or vanilla. Ground nuts, orange zest, and egg can also be used to thicken this heart-warming drink.
A traditional dish in Southern Mexico, you will either love or hate Romeritos. They are made with seepweed sprigs doused in mole sauce and served with prawns and potatoes. It’s not often made outside of the Christmas season.
Originally these are said to have started in Pueblan convents; rompope is similar to eggnog. However, it is made from cream and sugar and laced with the flavors of pecans, pine nuts, and strawberries.
Are you looking for great authentic Mexican cuisine and a place to celebrate this Christmas season? Come to Benito’s in the Fairmount area of Fort Worth. We are well known for our breakfast dishes, pico de gallo, fresh gauc, queso flamedo, and range of Mexican beers and margaritas. You’ll experience true Mexican cuisine with us at Benito’s.
To book a table, call us at 817-332-8633. To find out more, go to our website.