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The best holiday meals around the world

Here are five reasons to put food at the top of your priority list when planning your next trip during the holidays.

Food. It’s one of the best things about traveling and often the focus of vacationing to someplace new. The holiday season is also about eating—so, when you combine the holidays with traveling, there’s no better way to enjoy yourself than eating well, eating often, and eating a lot! 

There are all kinds of different holiday meals from place to place. Some cultural traditions uphold formal gatherings with traditional dishes, where others favor late-night celebrations with street food and large gatherings of strangers. But across the globe, great food is what brings people together. Here are five notable holiday meals you can experience in different places around the world.

Spanish sweets anyone?
  1. Soup and turrón in Barcelona

Catalan food is exceptional year round, but there are some special traditional dishes reserved for the holidays. Escudella is a bowl of soup with oversized pasta noodles, very hot broth, large meatballs, and vegetables. It dates back to the fourteenth century and is a staple holiday meal today. After dining on soup with friends and loved ones, turrón (also called torró) is a holiday dessert enjoyed all over Spain. It’s a nougat of egg whites, honey, almonds, and sugar. It’s delicious, which is why it’s also one of the most common holiday gifts in Barcelona.

  1. Chester Christmas dinner in Rio de Janeiro

In Brazil, Christmas dinner is a big deal. It begins late at night on December 24th and often rolls into Christmas morning. This holiday meal is celebrated heavily in Rio de Janeiro, where the main entrée is a “chester chicken”—an extra large bird with even more meat. Small bites and snacks make up the rest of the meal, like Portuguese salted cod, dried fruits, salads, and roasted potatoes. Panettone is an Italian sweet bread that rounds out the dessert. 

Make sure to save room for the king cake!
  1. The Nochebuena feast in Yucatan, Mexico

Holiday meals in Mexico are all about bringing families and loved ones together. The Yucatan region is known for some of the best food in Mexico. During the holidays, it’s typical to enjoy fresh tamales, colorful salad, and turkey with mole. For dessert, there are fried dough balls, called buñuelos, and of course the Three Kings Cake, Roscon de Reyes, is enjoyed in early January. If tequila is included in your Mexican holiday feast, the day-after meal you’ll need is pozole, a hot broth soup with meat and seasoned with chiles.

  1. Chicken and all the sides in Jamaica

Chicken is a main holiday dish in Jamaica, prepared many different ways—baked, barbecued, fried, barbi-fried, and of course, jerked. The blend of spices and Scotch bonnet peppers known as “jerk” is world renowned for a reason. It’s an everyday meal and that includes the holidays. There are many side dishes included in a Jamaican holiday feast, like rice and peas, curried goat, mac ‘n’ cheese, potato pudding, and festival bread—fried fresh cornmeal bread with cinnamon and sugar. And for holiday dessert, there’s Jamaican red wine and rum fruitcake, where the fruit is often soaked in wine and rum for months before the holidays.

There’s an abundance of sizzling skewers on Singapore’s streets.
  1. Street food in Singapore

The Singapore street food vendors draw millions of tourists each year, and the holiday season is one of the best times to visit. Street food is part of the nation’s history, where migrants from China, Malaysia, India and beyond brought their local cuisine to grow and thrive in the city. There are roughly 30,000 licensed food vendors spread across the island of Singapore in public centers, markets, canteens, and food halls. So, you can stay busy and eat continuously for as long as you want. While you’re exploring the streets, you can experience the annual festive light-up on Orchard Road, an annual tradition for over thirty years. As an alternative, local restaurants and hotels set up impressive holiday buffet spreads too!