Tips for Today: Cultural Holiday Foods

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Does your restaurant, bar or cafe change your menu for the holiday season?

Depending on where you’re located (and what your holiday weather is like), you might add more comforting dishes to your menu – stews, roasts, and other hearty fare. But, have you ever considered adding holiday dishes from different cultures to your menu? As you plan for the holidays, spicing up your menu could be worth considering, especially if you have a very diverse customer base! Below, you’ll find holiday dishes (both sweet and savory) to help you get your holiday menu planning underway.


These delicious fried potato pancakes are a traditional Jewish dish. They can be served as an appetizer or as the main course.




Australian and New Zealand families enjoy this meringue-based dessert during the holidays. It was named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova, apparently after she visited the countries on a world tour.

Mincemeat Pies

Many families throughout the United Kingdom serve these savory pies (spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and nuts) during the holiday season.

Feast of Seven Fishes

In Italian culture, families celebrate Christmas Eve by preparing a feast of seven seafood dishes. Some families even celebrate with 9, 11 or 13 seafood dishes!

Photo via Saveur

Photo via Saveur



Think of this as Puerto Rican egg nog – kicked up with rum, coconut milk, cinnamon and other spices.


Also known as egg-lemon soup, this Greek dish is often served as a first course on Christmas day.


This German-style gingerbread (complete with honey, coriander, cinnamon and a range of nuts) is a traditional holiday treat.

Saffron Buns

Also called St. Lucia Buns, saffron buns are a rich, spiced yeast-leavened sweet bun that is flavored with saffron and cinnamon or nutmeg and contains currants.

Saffron Bun

Image via All Recipes



Speculaas is a type of spiced shortcrust biscuit, traditionally baked for celebrations on or just before St. Nicholas’ feast in the Netherlands (on December 5), Belgium (on December 6), and around Christmas in Germany. (One of our favorites!!)


This Latin American delicacy combines pork, peppers and green bananas and is similar to a tamale.

Will you be preparing any ethnic or multi-cultural dishes at your restaurant this year? Let us know in the comments section below!

See more articles in our Holiday Planning series here.

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