Gastronomical Delights to Enjoy This Holiday Season
Given that over 60% of global travelers say they choose a destination for its great food or drink no matter the time of year*, it should be no surprise that for many, their enjoyment of the holidays is closely connected to very specific dishes that truly make their festive celebrations special. Whether you plan to stick close to home this year or are traveling to the other side of the globe, we bring you some must-have seasonal treats from around the world to inspire your holiday feasting.
Glazed Apples in Beijing, China
From sugar plum fairies to sugar apples, this treat stems from a festive phrase rather than a traditionally festive food. It’s become a recent popular tradition to gift apples on Christmas Eve in China. In Chinese, Christmas Eve is called "Ping'an Ye" (平安夜), meaning peaceful or quiet evening, which has been translated from the popular carol Silent Night. The word for apple in Mandarin is "píngguǒ" (苹果) which sounds like the word for peace, and so the tradition was born. Around Christmas in China, you’ll find many stores selling glazed apples wrapped in beautifully adorned colored paper.
Where to stay: For a stay that’s as sweet as your glazed apple treats, The Imperial Mansion, Beijing - Marriott Executive Apartments offers the perfect base to explore China’s majestic capital. It’s located conveniently in the center of the Wangfujing commercial area, so the perfect base for taking a bite out of all the city has to offer!
Melomakarona in Athens, Greece
The melomakarono (Greek: μελομακάρονο) is an egg-shaped Greek dessert made mainly from flour, olive oil and honey. Along with kourabiedes (also known as Greek wedding cookies), these sweet treats are traditionally prepared during the Christmas season - but are also enjoyed year round for those with a sweet tooth!
Where to stay: Located in the heart of the Plaka district in Athens, this charming guest house (Palladian Home) is just a short walk away from Syntagma Square, where the city’s Christmas tree is lit each year. It's the perfect location for an evening stroll after over-indulging in a few honey cookies.
Latkes in Jerusalem
For many faiths, nearby Bethlehem plays an important role in the traditional account of the first Christmas. However, Jerusalem is an ideal spot to sample a few latkes, crunchy, savory potato cakes that are also an iconic Hanukkah delicacy. This festive dish is famous for being fried in oil, symbolic of the oil that miraculously lasted eight days instead of one in the original Hanukkah story.
Where to stay: Jerusalem’s Old City is a unique location to experience the holiday season, with plenty of churches and sacred sites to explore. Abraham Hostel Jerusalem is only a short walk from the Old City and offers both private rooms and dormitories. It also hosts many social events, including a fun Christmas party for those looking to celebrate with fellow travelers.
Bacalao in Mexico City, Mexico
Bacalao is the Spanish word for dried and salted cod. While this is a common delicacy in Spain and Portugal all year around, the Mexican version for Christmas is served as a festive fishy stew prepared with tomatoes, onions, green olives, chilies and garlic.
Where to stay: The festive feeling will be alive throughout Mexico City, but nowhere more merry with cheer than the towering Christmas tree (árbol de Navidad) in the main city square, Plaza de la Constitución. Nearby Chaya B&B Boutique is the perfect place for your cozy Mexico City escape, featuring comfortable rooms and a lovely garden. It's also within walking distance of a traditional Mexican market, La Ciudadela, the perfect place to pick up some last-minute Christmas gifts, like authentic Mexican handicrafts and folk art.
Sochivo in Moscow, Russia
Traditionally enjoyed after the Christmas Eve Orthodox church service in Russia, sochivo is a dish made from of wheat (sometimes lentils), peas and barley soaked in water and mixed with honey. To really embrace this Russian tradition, you should abstain from eating until dusk on Christmas Day, when you can see the first star in the sky. Then you can enjoy some sochivo, in memory of the star of Bethlehem.
Where to stay: Moscow comes to life at Christmas time thanks to it’s Journey into Christmas festival, which includes incredible light installations, a 100-meter high ice slide and a Christmas town at Tverskaya Square. The Four Seasons Hotel Moscow in the heart of Moscow is the perfect base for your wintery Russian holiday. It’s walking distance from the Kremlin and the Bolshoi Theatre and some rooms even have views of the illuminated light installations in Red Square.
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of adults who have taken a trip in the last 12 months/plan to take a trip in the next 12 months. In total 18,509 respondents were surveyed (1,000+ from France, the UK, Germany, Italy, Brazil, China, India, Russia, Singapore, Spain and the US, and 500+ each from Netherlands, Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand). Respondents completed an online survey in August 2017.