Here’s How Christmas Eve Dinner Looks All Around The World

HuffPost. December 2022.

While many familiar Christmas traditions originated in Western countries, people from all around the world and from different cultural backgrounds celebrate the holiday with the same spirit of gratitude and togetherness. No matter where, recipes passed on through generations are central to family gatherings. From callaloo to chicken tikka masala, find out what renowned chefs and food influencers around the world are cooking on Christmas Eve.


Martha Ortiz Chapa is the head chef at Tuch de Luna at La Casa de la Playa in Riviera Maya. She was the chef-owner of Dulce Patria, which had been named one of the 50 best restaurants in Latin America and the best restaurant in Mexico City before closing earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic. She has also served as a judge on “Top Chef Mexico,” and in 2020 was named one of the 40 best chefs in the world.

Our December traditions begin with the Posadas (a religious festival held from Dec. 16-24), which lead the way to the grand celebration of Christmas Eve. During this time, Mexicans hang seven-point-star piñatas (the peaks representing a different capital sin, including gluttony) made with contrasting colored tissue paper and filled with pieces of sugar cane, tejocotes (a fruit), orange wedges, peanuts, candies and sugar-coated almonds. We blindfold the guests, who take turns hitting the piñata until someone breaks it, in celebration of the predominance of virtue and abundance.

On Noche Buena (the night that is good)aka Christmas Eve, I elegantly present these crafts to my guests. I usually use a dark tablecloth as a canvas and decorate it with wooden kitchen utensils, such as grinders, spoons and saucepans, surrounded by colorful flowers. I personalize each guest’s place on their plate with a small piñata, which holds inside a traditional sweet or piece of candy and a message of friendship and love, in the hope that they will take it home with them and, when they break it, the abundance of affection, bonds and the celebration of life will grow.

As a proud Mexican, I begin with traditional dishes such as romeritos (tender sprigs of seepweed) with cactus strips, and mole (made with at least 50 ingredients) seasoned with dried shrimp. I serve a salad called Noche Buena, which is prepared with diced jicama, apple, beet, orange wedges and crunchy peanuts. For main, we have pork leg in spicy pulque marinade. I wash it down with my personal favorite, a punch of tejocotes, tamarind, jicama pieces, piloncillo (a raw form of pure cane sugar), guavas and spices and a touch of hard liquor.

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Uganda Gets Its First Food Blogger, Sophia Musoki

For Cuisine Noir Magazine. September 2018.

Sophia Musoki (who goes by Sophie) is a 24-year-old food blogger from Kampala, Uganda. Her blog, A Kitchen in Uganda is one of the first, if not the only, food blogs that showcases Ugandan cuisine on a global scale. Since its inception in 2014, it has been recognized by CNN African Voices and shortlisted for Saveur Magazine blog awards, and her e-book won the Gourmand World Cooking Award.

Musoki chats with me from Jamaica, where she is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in business management and entrepreneurship at the Northern Caribbean University. I wanted to learn a little more about Ugandan cuisine and how she is setting it up to take the global stage.

Why did you start blogging?

I aspired to cook since I was a young girl. I couldn’t go to culinary school, so I started experimenting with food at home through my blog. In the beginning, it was just meant for me as I discovered creative ways to cook my food. I didn’t expect anyone to read it. I was doing it for my family and friends.

It was only in 2015 when a digital marketer approached me that I started taking my work seriously. He told me that I was the only one doing this in Uganda. I was shocked! I searched for other food bloggers and there was no one else writing about our food. Perhaps because the Internet is expensive here or no one looked at Ugandan food the way I did.

What’s the focus of your food blog?

In the food industry, African food does not show up in mainstream media. Very few people know about Ugandan food, which is influenced by colonial British and Indian immigrants. Ugandan cuisine, compared to other African cuisines, is simpler. We don’t really spice our food that much. We like it simplified. We believe that local ingredients have enough flavor and don’t need much seasoning.

My fellow Ugandans often read food blogs where the recipes call for ingredients we don’t find here. We can get apples and blueberries sometimes, but they are very expensive. To avoid the frustration, in my recipes I use ingredients that an average Ugandan can afford. We have a lot of local and indigenous produce that we can use to make our meals more exciting. Traditional stews, starchy food, posho (ground white cornmeal mixed with water) and soups can be flavored with local mangoes, avocados, oranges and jackfruits.

What does your typical day look like?

Every day is different. Cooking is only 50% of the work in food blogging. I plan the day before what I’m going to cook. On the days when I’m cooking and shooting, I can shoot up to three recipes. Then I schedule my posts out weekly.

I develop recipes for local companies such as Britania, Yo Kuku! and African Wine Traders using their products and earn commissions which help me sustain my blog. I also offer product photography to companies that need image libraries for their products online.

It is a lot of hard work. Often, family members help by holding the dishes (you may have seen their hands in my pictures) or with shopping in the market.

What would your grandmother say about your food blog?

She would be interested. For her generation, food is something they had for survival. There was no allowance for extravagance. It was mostly boiled, steamed or stewed for a quick nutritious meal that allowed you to fill your belly and get back to work.

I still cook traditional simple dishes that she makes, but make them a little more interesting. One of my favorite dishes is katogo, and she makes the best! It literally translates to a mixture of things. You can boil a combination of bananas, tomatoes, groundnuts, cassava or beans in a pot. I just add some ghee and avocados to modernize it.

How do you feel about your success?

It’s humbling because I never expected it to become this big. So, when I receive awards for my blog, it gives me affirmation that I’m doing the right thing. I am also inspiring and mentoring other African food bloggers.

What’s next for you?

Currently I’m working on a new e-book on a dish called rolex, one of my favorite things to grab when I’m working and don’t want to spend a lot. It is a popular local street food which has recently gotten the spotlight. I contributed to a piece on rolex and CNN picked it up, making it a phenomenon. Basically, it is eggs rolled in a chapati, filled with onions, cabbage, kale, meat and tomatoes. I am experimenting with other ways to make it.

What advice can you give to other food bloggers?

Be consistent. Keep doing what you are doing and something might come out of it. Devote time to producing quality work. Sometimes there’s pressure to publish regularly, but it’s more important to have quality. The readers appreciate that more.

Visit Musoki’s blog, A Kitchen in Uganda, at and follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

~ Written for Cuisine Noir Magazine.