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Christmas At Our House

provitica-2Yeah, I know it’s January…but some people still have their Christmas tree up, so I feel ok about this. For now.

Four years ago, while driving home from some random outing (probably to get groceries or something fun like that), I turned to my wife and said, “Name the first country you think of.” We had been trying to figure out what to make for Christmas dinner for a while (traditional/off the wall/something not traditional but tasty/etc) and my thought was we would fix whatever the traditional Christmas food (when possible/if celebrated) was for that country. Being rather pleased with myself for coming up with said idea, I didn’t bother telling her what the question was for or what she was picking.

“Uzbekistan!” she replied with little to no thought.

Talk about a plan backfiring. “Uzbekistan?! Of ALL the countries in the world, you pick Uzbekistan? I was expecting “Mexico” or “China” or something like that…but Uzbekistan?!”

“Yep. Uzbekistan.”

I then proceeded to explain to her what she just decided and we had a good laugh about the whole thing, but were determined to make it work. Not having any clue at all what people in Uzbekistan eat, I feared the worst. As it turns out, I shouldn’t have.

We’ve done this every year for Christmas and it’s turned into a fun way to explore foods from around the world and to learn things about the people that live there. The following are the countries we’ve “been to” so far, along with the foods we ate:

Uzbekistan:  Plov (this is also known as Pilaf) is rice with all sorts of spices and lamb meat and garlic (mmmm…garlic). I also marinated some steak in the same seasoning combination as was in the Plov and then grilled it on skewers. While probably not legit Uzbekistani preparation, it was REALLY good and we’ve made it a couple times since then.

Brazil: Marinated some shrimp in coconut milk and some spices and grilled these as well as some steak. I also made a black bean stew called Feijoada, along with some rice, that was really good. A friend of ours came over and brought Flan that she made.

Croatia: We started with a shrimp dish, then had Pasticada (this wasn’t our favorite and I’m totally taking the blame for that). Our friend came over again and brought Roasted Lamb (under the bell) that was phenomenal. Seriously, look that one up and give it a go sometime. I also made Povitica for dessert (pictured above). That was probably my favorite part. It was a little dry, but I was able to offset that by mixing up a quick frosting/glaze out of orange juice and powdered sugar. Good stuff.

This year was Greece: We started with Avgolemono (egg/lemon/chicken broth soup) and a Greek salad. Next was Dolmandes and Moussaka (Dolmandes were good, but labor intensive (pro-tip: get the insides done and throw it all in the fridge to cool off…MUCH easier that way!)), the Moussaka was not my favorite, but most of it was gone by the end of the evening). Finally, we had Melomakarona which are little cookies soaked in a honey/lemon sauce that soaks into them. Really yummy.

Anyway, that’s our new tradition…pick a random country and make the food that is traditional for that place for Christmas. Our first snag comes with this next Christmas as the country chosen (I now get a random number from one of the people that will be eating dinner with us): Saudi Arabia.

So…if you know of any good Saudi Arabian recipes that are traditional for winter, please let me know and, as always, happy eating.

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