Different culture groups share their Christmas menus

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Chimè Meyers, Shaazia Essop and Anna Chaka each celebrate Christmas with their families in a unique way. PHOTO: SEITHATI SEMENOKANE

A lot of people have already started to prepare their meals for Christmas Day. Voice spoke to various people from different culture groups to find out what they will be doing on this special day and what they will have on their menu for the family meal they are planning to enjoy with their loved ones.
Chimè Meyers from Bloemfontein is from the Gujarati community, an ethnic group of India. They do not celebrate Christmas but participate in a festival of lights known as Diwali, celebrated once a year in either the months of September or October. Meyers says because Christmas Day is a public holiday for most, Gujaratis also participate in festivities, especially in the custom of cooking traditional foods.
Gujaratis love curry and they make sure that mutton and chicken curries are dished up, she explains. For a roast, they prepare Tikka chicken. Roast potatoes, pumpkin and spinach are also on the menu. “It is not creamed spinach, it has a curry flavour to it.” For dessert they prepare trifle.
A traditional type of pasta, somewhat similar to spaghetti but known as vermicelli, is on the dessert menu. It is a very fine, thin pasta which is prepared with condensed milk, milk and cardamom seeds, says Meyers. In Italy vermicelli is slightly thicker than spaghetti but in the United States it is slightly thinner. According to Wikipedia, cardamom are seeds produced by several plants in the native Indian groups, Elettaria, and Amomum, which is in the family Zingiberaceae. The seeds are recognised by its small seed pods, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin, papery outer shell and small black seeds.
Shaazia Essop, also from Bloemfontein, is a Muslim. She doesn’t celebrate Christmas but likes to join some of her Christian family members celebrating this day. Essop says her family are very interactive and enjoy a meal together.
They prepare Breyani (a South Asian mixed rice dish which originated from the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent) which is a traditional food dished up by Muslims. Halal foods, including beef and lamb, are also prepared.)
Anna Chaka from Turflaagte in Bloemfontein is a Xhosa woman who likes to prepare finger-licking traditional food on Christmas Day. This includes “pap”, meat and morogo, known as wild or African spinach. (Three different dark green leafy vegetables are found throughout Southern Africa.)
Chaka says because of the warm weather conditions in December she likes to spoil her loved ones with various salads that complement the meaty dishes. A carrot salad with sliced green apples and two teaspoons of brown sugar as well as mayonnaise are mixed together for this salad. A green bean salad is also a favourite. Green beans are mixed with spicy vegetable relish known as chakalaka.
Ligia Vicente is of Portuguese origin. She has been in South Africa for the past 18 years. Vicente and her husband are the owners of the Save Rite Supermarket at Emily Hobhouse Square in Bloemfontein. Pork belly is the main dish on their Christmas lunch menu. Pork Belly (Carne de vinho e alhos) is prepared with potatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes. The pork belly is marinated three days before it is cooked with bay leaves, garlic, vinegar and wine.
Their dessert is a baked egg pudding, Pudin de Ovo. Ingredients include eggs, condensed milk and vanilla. A Honey Cake (Bolo de Mel) is also served as a dessert. Ingredients used are flour, eggs, milk, butter, nuts and honey.
Vicente says they also enjoy wine or other traditional drinks with the food. The ingredients for Poncha is the liquor cane, lemons, sugar and honey. Ginja (cherry liqueur) and Tin Tan Tun (a traditional liqueur) are also favourites.
And on that note, the French phrase “bon appétit” is in order. – Christal-lize Muller
christal-lize@centralmediagroup.co.za