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Celebrating the Foods of the World

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I love the traditions of many different cultures. When I lived north of Boston, the city was charmed with both Italian fiestas and Portuguese celebrations. And of course, each was filled with the tastes of the country’s homeland. Festive celebrations at the Simbang Gabi and Noche Buena Filipino Mass and feast. This year I was […]

December 19, 2011


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I love the traditions of many different cultures. When I lived north of Boston, the city was charmed with both Italian fiestas and Portuguese celebrations. And of course, each was filled with the tastes of the country’s homeland.

Festive celebrations at the Simbang Gabi and Noche Buena Filipino Mass and feast.

This year I was honored to be a guest of the Simbang Gabi and Noche Buena Filipino Mass and feast. My good friend Ernesto Epistola has invited me for the past few years, and I was so thrilled to attend this year for the caroling, Mass and an incredible buffet that fed hundreds.   

Everyone is Filipino during the holidays!

One would not guess this Jewish woman was not from the Philipines. Sunday evening, in fact, pastor Bernard Evanofski announced, “Tonight everyone is Filipino.”

I concurred.

Traditional roast pig with liver gravy.

Delicious, plentiful food in a potluck setting.

Not knowing what to expect, but knowing it was a cultural potluck, I read online that one could bring a gift of 12 round fruits, symbolizing one for each month. Do not present them before the meal, however, because the host may worry you thought there perhaps would not be enough food (indeed, there was enough food to feed most of Sarasota). There was the traditional whole roasted pig with noodles, adobo and fermented vegetables (which one of my hosts would not let me try for fear they would be too bitter for me). There were spring rolls, too, and, of course, the crème caramel custard.

Tomorrow night I will help light the Menorah at Five Points before rushing home for a week of latkes. Christmas Eve we will dine on Asian food (that’s how Jews in the United States spend Christmas), and Christmas Day will be filled with hugs and gumbo at Margaret and Bill Wise’s home before I head to mine to make my Irish man a good Christmas dinner.

So, what I wish for everyone is to take time to celebrate new traditions, learn how others enjoy the holidays and their foods, and enjoy the season.

Manigong Bagong Taon!



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