Welcome to another edition of Cultural Tidbits Monday! Today we venture out to the sunny Caribbean once again, to learn more about Martinique drinks and food.
1) Accras, fritters made with fish, are an appetizer not only in Martinique, but also other Caribbean islands such as St. Lucia
As you already know from this blog, the Caribbean is more than just beautiful beaches. Caribbean food and drinks are a wonderful mix of European, Taíno/Amerindian, and African flavors. The island of Martinique isn’t an exception! However, I had the opportunity to visit back in 2002 and noticed some nuances. Instead of Spaniard flavors, you will see a mix of Creole and French cuisine, in the likes of New Orleans, mixed with other African and Amerindian root vegetables, common in other Caribbean cuisines such as Dominican Republic and Puerto Rican food.
2) Root vegetables are a staple in Martinique's cuisine as well. Here, malanga patties before being deep fried
3) Ouassous, or freshwater crayfish, is a popular dish in Martinique and Guadeloupe
Today, though, our descriptions are focusing on Martinique drinks. Like your rum, like your sweets? Then you’re in for a treat! 😉
4) Ti' punch setup!
A strong mixture of rum, lime juice and cane syrup, with a dash of bitters. It is a popular beverage not only in Martinique, but across the West Indies. Click here for a traditional recipe.
5) ready-to-drink planteur punch
The Caribbean sure loves its rum! Planteur is another rum punch and traditional Martinique drink. The flavor of this tall drink is emphasized by a balance of grenadine (pomegranate) and orange juice notes. Click here for a simple recipe.
6) Among the classic Martinique drinks is the Clement Créole Shrubb!
As I explained on my second post of Christmas traditions around the world, shrubb is a distinct Martinique liquor with a strong orange flavor. It is made out of white rum (of course!), sugarcane syrup and the dried peels of oranges and tangerines. It is a tradition to make and consume shrubb during Christmas time, but I’m sure it is a practice that remains alive year-round, even if not as common. Want to give it a shot and try to make your own homemade shrubb? Click here for recipe and some extra cultural tidbits!
Have you tried Martinique drinks and food? Been to the Caribbean?
CLICK HERE for pt 1 of Christmas traditions around the world! learn about the FESTIVE customs and traditions of even more countries.
Christmas in Italy
Presepe: Nativity scene in Italy (Photo: Davide Papalini)
Thought Christmas were longer only in Latin America? Think again! In Italy, Christmas officially starts on December 8th with the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception and then, families typically start to decorate their homes with lights. Gift giving, however, does not happen until January 6th or Epiphany, a tradition shared with many Latin American countries. That 12th day of Christmas is when it is believed that the Three Wise Men (aka Three Kings) visited Baby Jesus and showered him with gifts. As such, just like in Latin America, the main Christmas decoration is the Nativity scene, or as it is called in Italian: The presepe.
Christmas in Jordan
Minced beef and bulgur, a traditional Christmas dish in Jordan (Photo:Wearenotmartha.com)
Christmas in Jordan is celebrated with great fervor by the Christian minority there. What surprised me the most, however, is the tradition of soaking dry fruits in rum, brandy, and cognac by women in early December! I can’t wait to go back to the Middle East an try those! 😉 Then on Christmas Eve, a cake is baked, while Christmas Day dinner consists of grilled eggplant, vine leaves in tomato sauce, stuffed turkey, and minced beef with bulgur
Christmas in Martinique
Clément Créole Shrubb, a popular one in Martinique (Photo:Scotlandstephenson.com)
Christmas in this creole tropical island is a mix of Caribbean and French flavors. Their most distinct Christmas tradition, however, is the making and drinking of shrubb, a fine liquor made of white rum, sugarcane syrup and dried peels of tangerines and oranges, which are abundant at this time of the year.
Christmas in Mexico
Posada procession in Oaxaca, Mexico (Photo: GoMexico.about.com)
Mexican Christmas (or “Navidades”) officially start on December 16th with a tradition called “Las Posadas,” which last all the way until Noche Buena or Christmas Eve. This tradition involves the recreation of Mary and Joseph’s hard journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, trying to find shelter to give birth. A different part of the journey is recreated every night, culminating with a party at a neighborhood. Children dress as angels, shepherds, and also as Mary and Joseph in such processions, with their parents following with lit candles.
Christmas in Morocco
Jemaa el Fnaa Square. Marrakech, Morocco
As a Muslim country, Christmas is rarely celebrated in Morocco. Yet, due to the strong French/European influence in the country, along with a growing expat community, you will find Christmas lights and decorations sprinkled throughout the big cities. Days vary, however, depending on the faith and background of that minority. For instance, members of the Orthodox Christian Church celebrate Christmas on January 6th; while the Coptic and Armenian Churches celebrate the holy day on January 7th. Last, but not least, the Catholics typically attend a special evening mass on December 24th to start Christmas.
Christmas in Panama
Left: A traditional pollera dress; Right: Light show during Panama City’s Christmas Boat Show (Photos: Family-christmas-traditions.com)
Christmas in Panama is quite lively and several great events are held, specially in the capital Panama City. Festivities kick off the 2nd weekend of December with a big Christmas Parade. Gorgeous floats pass by and women dress in very bright, traditional dresses called polleras. Also, at night, an amazing boat parade showcase a light show that is truly spectacular!
Christmas in Puerto Rico
It is tough to decide what’s your favorite tradition of a Puerto Rican Christmas. Is it the fact that they begin on Thanksgiving Day in November and don’t end until the end of January? Is it the party after party throughout the whole season and how virtually everyone decorates their homes with hundreds of lights? Or is it the food and plena music?
Coming from the Island of Enchantment, I can tell you that the most unique and fun Christmas tradition in Puerto Rico is the parrandas! In essence, they are drunken Christmas carols! Learn more about Puerto Rican parrandas here.
Christmas in Spain
Pavo trufado: A traditional Christmas dish in Spain (Photo: Cocina.org)
Naturally, Christmas traditions in Spain are very similar to those in Latn America. Thus, I have decided to switch it up a bit on this entry and leave ya with a recipe of a traditional Christmas dish in Spain: Pavo Trufado de Navidad (Christmas Turkey with Truffles)!
1 turkey of 4 kg. ½ kg. minced lean pork 1 kg. minced veal Salt and ground black pepper 1 glass of brandy 1 large glass of dry oloroso sherry 3 tins (of 90g) truffles (mushrooms) 150 g “jamon serrano” 200 g belly of pork in rashers 6 eggs [click here for the rest!]
Christmas in Switzerland
Ringli: Typical Christmas treat in Switzerland
A special Swiss Christmas tradition is to await the arrival of Christkindli: A white angel wearing a crown full of jewels, which holds a face veil over its face. This angel is the one that brings the presents. These, by the way, come in a basket, which is carried by Christkindli‘s child helpers. Also, another Swiss Christmas tradition is to eat ringli (homemade doughnuts) with hot chocolate.
Christmas in St Thomas (US Virgin Islands)
Photo recipe: VirginIslandsThisWeek.com (click to enlarge)
One event to look forward to when spending Christmas in St. Thomas is the Challenge of the Carols outdoor concert. It is infamously glorious! While at it, grab some Johnny cakes (traditional holiday sweet bread). Click on the image above for a traditional recipe to bake at home!
Christmas in Vatican City
Vatican Christmas Tree (Photo: Sunshine city, Flikr)
Naturally, the Pope delivers his traditional Christmas speech and directs mass to thousands of fervent believers. This service, called “midnight papal mass,” actually begins at 10 PM on Christmas Eve in St. Peter’s Basilica. The papal speech, however, is delivered around noon on Christmas Day.
What are your favorite Christmas traditions around the world? Why?