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December 14, 2009

Unusual holiday dinners

roastedturkey.jpgJust after musing this morning that Indian or Japanese food sounded pretty good for Christmas dinner -- the first time in my adult life I've ever thought of venturing beyond what might be at home on any Victorian table -- I got a request from Laura Vozzella, who's writing a story for the Taste section on unconventional holiday dinners.

She's hoping to get readers to share their unusual menus with her for the story. Example: Someone here at the Sun had a meatloaf shaped like a Christmas tree for his holiday dinner. ...

I'm sorry, I try to be open-minded, but that does not sound festive to me.


Anyway, Laura doesn't realize you all are like shy little kittens, so she suggested people e-mail her directly with their weird menus at However, if you would prefer, you can simply post a comment here (and fill in your e-mail in the appropriate field), and she'll be in touch with you.

Of course, the person who had the traditional holiday meatloaf each year has never taken a photo of it -- no surprise there -- so we're stuck with a picture of a beautiful turkey dinner. Sorry about that. Although the garnishes look kind of strange, don't they? It looks like a tropical Christmas.

(AP photo)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 3:28 PM | | Comments (31)


We have ham, but with a pineapple stuffing that is very good (it's probably the 4 sticks of butter). For New Years' we always have black-eyed peas for luck, not sauerkraut.

Christmas Day dinner consists of various Italian dishes...lasgana, baked ziti, meatballs, etc. New Year's Day it is all seafood...fried shrimp, steamed shrimp, crab cakes, oysters, and pickled herring for good luck :-)

BaltBabs - We do Italian too on Christmas Day. A crockpot full of homemade meatballs, italian sausage with green peppers and onions in tomato sauce. We also have shrimp salad, crab balls, and trifle for dessert. New year's is steamed shrimp.

It is always filet for us on Christmas

Just my opioion, but I think by the time Christmas rolls around people are tired of the traditional turkey and ham dinners.

I sometimes make Boudin Sausage and use it to stuff boneless turkey thighs for dinner. At lunch I bread the Boudin made into sausage balls and deep fry it. The turkey breast I stuff with a pecan and sundried tomato dressing I found in the Wine Spectator many years ago. The remainder of the turkey gets made into broth for turkey bone gumbo on the 26th. This year since it is just the three of us I am baking a ham.

Lots of common themes here. I always make a black-eyed pea salad for good luck in the New Year. We usually have pickled herring and smoked salmon as appetizers during the holidays, as well as the usual assortment of cheeses. My favorite Christmas dessert is a gingerbread cake with brandied whipped cream. Mmmm ... Is it time to bake yet?

Christmas dinner at my house centers around beef tenderloin. Never any leftovers :(

Growing up, my family was vegitarian, and one year we had a lentil loaf (think meat loaf, only with lentils instead of ground beef) shaped like a turkey.

Growing up, my family was vegetarian, and one year we had a lentil loaf (think meat loaf, only with lentils instead of ground beef) shaped like a turkey, except that my younger sister did the shaping, and she didn't know people don't serve turkeys with the head on.
We're eating meat now, and last year we had lobster tail and asparagus.

Growing up, my family was vegetarian, and one year we had a lentil loaf (think meat loaf, only with lentils instead of ground beef) shaped like a turkey, except that my younger sister did the shaping, and she didn't know people don't serve turkeys with the head on.
We're eating meat now, and last year we had lobster tail and asparagus.

Nichole's story reminds me that one of my yoga teachers (a vegetarian, natch) and his sister (also a yoga teacher, also a vegetarian) were served a special tofurkey one Thanksgiving. They took simultaneous bites--and simultaneously spat them out. Give me lobster any day!

Christmas dinner is easy and rib, baked potato, string beans,apple pie for dessert.

I must be missing something here. The topic specifically requested unusual holiday dinners, yet everybody has been offering rather ordinary or pedestrian means (apart from Nichole's lentil loaf). Can't any of you do better than that?

Mom's making a turducken for xmas this year. I can't wait.

My family does Italian on Christmas Eve. Usually meatballs and pasta, and my Mom's Italian cheese bread.

For Christmas dinner, its ham a good part of the time. Or turkey, if I request it since I have to travel the farthest to get there.

sorry hmpstd.

captcha: bias presumably

One year, my father decided to try haggis, and made haggis for himself, my brother, and my step-mother. No side dishes, nothing else - just haggis. And he had cleaned out the fridge in his normal pre-holiday ritual. Either he didn't make it right or my step-mother and brother just don't care for haggis, because they ended up having cheerios with brandied eggnog on top for dinner. They said it was kind of strange at first, but the more eggnog that was consumed, the better it tasted. My father still insists that the haggis was damn tasty! And my step-mother still lays in a couple of frozen pot pies before each holiday, just in case...

Sorry, hmpstd. Not my holiday. Still, my standard dinner for holidays I don't celebrate when most things are closed involves chocolate and DVDs.

When I lived in the Arab neighbourhood in Detroit, I always had lamb. Since the area was half Christian and half Muslim, all businesses stayed open for all holidays. It was great, although I always felt guilty eating in Muslim-owned restaurants during the day during Ramadan.

I don't know that our Christmas dinners are unusual other than that they are different than what most people serve for the holidays (like ham or turkey). My mom is not a big fan of turkey, it is all she can do to make one for Thanksgiving, so we have always had something different for Christmas. In past years, we have had chicken marsala, shrimp fra diavolo, lobster tails, prime rib, and beef Wellington. Oddly, this year we are having a tradional ham. On Christmas Eve we always have Polish sausage and sauerkraut.

My family is tired of traditional X-mas dinners. This year we are going Mexican. My job is posole. Been craving that since last time I was in Mexico. I am doing it without the pig's head - don't think anyone will know the difference or, better yet, they will eat it if they don't see the head floating in the soup.

Our Thanksgiving menu is pretty much set in stone, and Christmas Eve is always Chinese, but we try to switch up the Christmas menu every year, just to keep things interesting. This year, we will begin the day with a festive burrito bar (chorizo, bacon, eggs, roasted potatoes and peppers, fresh pico, guacamole, and sourcream...with ruby red margaritas).
Snacks around lunchtime: spanikopita, apple & cheddar in filo, and brown sugar brie.
Dinner:bacon wrapped filet, orange glazed lobster tails, drunk mushrooms, dill new potatoes, green bean bundles, and green salad.
Dessert: chocolate macadamia tart and tiramisu

We don't have any odd food for the holidays but, we have one tradition that most folks think is odd. On Christmas Eve, we put all of the food for dinner on the table, including dessert. Usually it's G&M's crab cakes, shrimp salad, hash brown casarole, green beans, carrots, rolls and trays and trays of cookies along with wine, coffee and tea. Well, once the last person sits down, nobody can get up until the last person is done (even done dessert). The reason, according to legend, is that, if somebody gets up before the last person is ready, ther will be one less the next year. We have not been brave enough to test it.

GrayGirl, I'm coming to your house for Christmas dinner!

Kitkat, if you *really* liked pozole, you'd use the pig's head. You'd have more leftovers, then.

Yeah GrayGirl, I think I am your long lost cousin! What time should I be there?

Thanksgiving Turkey

Christmas, everything else. One year beef tenderloin, who knows what this year.

My favorite thanksgiving was the year the electricity went out while the bird was still cooking. No underdone bird for us (shudder) Instead got Chinese. The place was packed and carry out on sister-in-laws china was just plain fun.

Ummmm - Lissa - Where do you buy a pig's head in Baltimore? Don't say Lexington Market. You see enough weird stuff on downtown streets without someone walking along with a pig's head in a bag.

I knew a lawyer who had terripan delivered from the eastern shore by Greyhound to DT Baltimore for soup, he got a raft of sh-t cuz the turtles were alive and kicking and the bag was undulating. Freaked people out.


That almost happened to us this year! We were all at my parents' house, and the power went out just as we got all of the food on the table. My mom only had scented candles which we didn't want to use around the food, so we passed a flashlight around to see what we were eating. Longest dinner ever that way, hahaha!

I've seen goats' heads in the halal butcher's near Waverly market. They were on sale, too. But, you won't get pigs' heads there.

Of course, svidh is an Icelandic delicacy. I haven't had it yet, but every time I'm in the bus station waiting for the bus back to Keflavik Airport, I think I should order it.

Well, I would have said Lexington Market, but I bet HMart has them, too. Or I'd ask at Sinaloa Tortillaria, since they make pozole (yum!) and have some staff who speak fluent English.

I want an undulating turtle bag now!!

My maternal grandparents were Italian. She from Vasto, in Abruzzi; he from Arnara, in Lazio southeast of Rome. Christmas eve was traditionally the "feast of seven fishes" , and it had had some kind of seafood in every course. from Anchovies to Zuppa di mare. My favorite was a baked whole fish stuffed with artichokes, onions and rosemary. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it. I might just try it next Thursday!

That baked stuffed fish sounds amazing! We also do an Italian seafood Christmas Eve dinner but mostly bacala cooked in different ways- salads and a stew. I love hearing about all the different Italian seafood meals other there.

New Year's Day is strictly Southern traditional food. Although we replace the ham with fried catfish. Fried okra is my favorite part of the meal.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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