Traditions with family and food are a large part of the holiday season and often, they reflect a culture’s identity. In Brazil, Italy and Norway, where seafood plays a significant role in the culture and lifestyle, it is no surprise that seafood dishes typically appear on the holiday menu.
Preparing the holiday menu is a time for community and bonding and is a particularly special activity during the holiday season for many people around the world. Recipes are passed down through generations and cooking family recipes together is a chance to reflect on the past and pass skills, stories and flavors on to future generations.
We spoke with Nathalia from Brazil, Paul from Italy, and Egil from Norway to learn more about their cooking traditions and hear what seafood dish they enjoy making for the holidays.
Brazil - Bacalhau Pie (Tarte de Bacalhau)
For Nathalia, love for cooking was instilled in her at a young age. Some of her favorite holiday memories are from Christmases spent at her grandma’s house in Brazil which she called “a party.” Nathalia attributes the vibrant spirit to the Brazilian culture where people are outspoken and expressive. At Christmas, Nathalia enjoys making Bacalhau, or salted cod, which has a deep-rooted history in preservation techniques using salt. This Bacalahu pie is one of her favorites because it combines fish with other staple Brazilian ingredients like olives.
Italy - Bacalao Con Pomodoro (Salted Cod with Onions, Tomatoes and Raisins)
Paul has fond memories from his childhood of his mom constantly keeping the table full of traditional and flavorful Italian dishes. After years of enjoying his family’s cooking, Paul loves being the main cook on Christmas Eve and keeps the dishes traditional to what his parents are used to. He even tries to take after his mother’s techniques, incorporating her “soulful” cooking style. Paul shares his Bacalao Con Pomodoro recipe, a dish that was inherited from his ancestors.
Norway - Norwegian Christmas Halibut
Originally from Norway, Egil holds on to some of his favorite holiday traditions and inspirations while he’s living in the United States. Egil’s family has always made a Christmas halibut with a special reduction sauce, which incorporates spices like whole cinnamon and star anise with garlic, shallots, white wine and apple juice to create the holiday flavor. Egil shares his advice for cooking moist fish and creating a yummy aroma in the kitchen.
There are so many ways to celebrate this holiday season, especially choosing flavorful recipes that reflect family and cultural values and traditions and bring people together for a delicious meal.