The holiday season in Guatemala is full of traditions and delicious meals. At this special time of year, our homes fill with sweet notes of pine, chamomile and fruits as we prepare to spend time with families and loved ones.
Let’s start by declaring something very important: every household in Guatemala thinks their recipes are the best! Everyone thinks their mother’s tamales or their grandmother’s ponche are the best in the country, so they naturally want to share them with others. Giving food is therefore a common and appreciative gesture Guatemalans do during the holiday season.
But what do we find in Guatemalan cuisine at Christmas? Here are some delicious dishes to make your tummy rumble. First we have…
Red Christmas Tamales
In Guatemala it is not Christmas season without red tamales. They are packed with great combinations of spices and can take a long time to make. First, the corn dough is put on plantain leaves and then stuffed with seasoned pork.
The sauce is toasted pepitoria seeds, chili guac, tomatoes and roasted onions. Finally, olive, raisins, thinly sliced bell pepper and some capers, and you’re done. They are three times the price of the standard tamale, but exquisite and worth the price.
black tamales are best described as an explosion of flavour. Made only at Christmas, they use the same corn dough and meat base as the regular tamale, but the black sauce (which gives it its name) is completely different.
Here we find a delicious mix of sweet and savory. For the mixture we use tomatoes, pork fat, artisan chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg and ground spices, mixed with chili guac and sesame seeds. And an important ingredient is three crushed champurradas. Champurradas are a traditional toasted biscuit made from sesame dough that we usually eat every day with a cup of coffee.
Across the country, every household adds its own special touches to the recipe, the details of which are kept secret and passed down from generation to generation. If you’re lucky, someone can invite you to their home for one of these delicious tamales. Eating one while watching fireworks is the perfect way to spend a traditional Christmas Eve.
When it comes to Guatemalan Christmas, a golden Turkey is there without fail. The preparation of this feast takes hours, but it is an opportunity for us to come together. Family members all help cut the vegetables, make the spice blends, or take the turkey out of the oven and drizzle with more white wine and spices.
When it’s finally ready, we garnish it with apples and grapes. The next day, of course, there’s leftover turkey! We enjoy nothing more than slices of leftover turkey on a bun with gravy. It’s just delicious!
Warm Fruit Punch (Ponche)
In drinks we have: traditional punch made from dried fruit, cinnamon and sometimes a touch of bourbon. We make it with sugar and spices, let it simmer for hours so that all the aromas and flavors can concentrate. punching, as we call it, will always accompany a tamal on Christmas Eve.
Hot chocolate is also a favorite holiday destination, usually made from a huge artisanal chocolate bar that is rich in flavors such as cardamom and cinnamon. Drunk throughout the Christmas season, including Christmas Day, hot chocolate is also part of the posadas, a rural tradition where people go door to door with a replica of the barn in which Jesus was born, asking for a place to stay (a posada).
When the music and everything is over, the hosts offer a small meal, punching, chocolate and tamales for everyone to gather around and say a little prayer.
romper is a traditional Guatemalan drink made from sweet milk, egg and rum. In addition, many people like to add their own flavors, such as vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg, for a satisfying Christmas feeling. Depending on the occasion, the amount of rum will vary, sometimes lighter, sometimes strong!
When do Guatemalans enjoy their? romp? You can find this eggnoggy drink at conviviality, traditional gatherings with office friends to celebrate the end of the year, and also when families drop by for unannounced visits. What better way to welcome someone to your door than with a tasty warm-up romp?
in Guatemala, roasted pig is a traditional and delicious Christmas meal. Many families eat this on New Year’s Eve and roast it for a minimum of seven hours with apple, pineapple and spices to give it a juicy sweet taste. It is a very popular dish and every family does it their own way by adding bourbon, wine or chicken stock. The result is always different but always delicious. Serve with green beans and potato salad. Astonishing.
The main ingredient
Now that we’ve seen delicious Guatemalan Christmas meals, it’s time to find out: what’s the main ingredient? Well, it’s not one that you can go and buy at the supermarket. The main ingredient is… family and friends, and love. The experience of cooking together with the family is something we look forward to and really enjoy. From young to old, everyone is joining the jobs they can handle, and when we all finally sit down, nothing beats sharing great food with your loved ones and friends.
Have you seen something you’d like to try?
Related: Most Popular Foods in Guatemala