Through the years, the landscape of what’s on the Christmas dinner table has significantly changed — due to reasons and circumstances, influenced by your unique experiences, determined by your status in life.
As a young couple with energetic growing children, the fun food must be attuned and appear attractive to the young kids.
Other times, friends came over for the holidays with a special request: to recreate their favorite goodies that you have served them in the past which they enjoyed immensely. It is more than just flattery — it is a genuine compliment to your culinary skills.
There were instances where foreign guests have been invited for Christmas dinner. So you consciously opted for a Filipino-inspired spread, for the Pinoy-style celebration experience.
Perhaps a gracious, well-meaning relative shared with you tons of various ingredients and you just felt the need to use it as the main star for Noche Buena.
The situations are endless. Somehow, there will always be an ever-present dish that is forever part of this ever-rotating,
always-altering menu. This mainstay may be a sentimental recipe, or an heirloom concoction that only makes a much-anticipated appearance during Christmas. One thing’s for certain: it will always be there, no matter what.
Here are the mainstays of some Cebuano families:
A Christmas day fare in my family is not complete without Mom’s signature Chicken Relleno. It is a labor of love as the preparation is intensive, from deboning the chicken to the tons of must-have ingredients made extra special by the generous addition of minced Chorizo de Bilbao. This treat is first served in our family’s Noche Buena. It is a favorite, so it makes a second appearance on Christmas day together with other traditional dishes.
Since the days of my great-grandmother, the center stage at our festive Christmas table should always be a juicy roasted turkey, complete with seasoned traditional stuffing. This is complimented with homemade warm and crusty toasted bread like no other. Both recipes were handed down by my great grandmother Casilda Martinez Mejia, to my mom Carmen Mejia Rodriguez — and is now imparted to the other siblings.