Yes, I spent pretty much every major holiday at my friend’s house this year. I already wrote about Halloween…so now I’m going to tell you about Christmas.
For Christmas, I had no idea that in Colombia they don’t have Santa Clause. They think the idea of a fat dude, in red footy-pajamas, riding magical flying quadrupeds, and free-falling down chimneys to eat our food and leave us gifts, is silly. Instead – they believe Baby Jesus brings you presents.
They also don’t have gigantic evergreens indoors…at the most they put a small tree outside with lights. Blinky lights.
Medellin LOVES their blinky lights. On the tree, on the balcony, over the streets. (Its actually really cool looking) And the blinky lights all blink at different speeds (even on the same patio), so its all twinkly and stuff all night. I love it.
So this Christmas, being my first Christmas ever out of the USA, I decided to teach my friend how to cook for Christmas (he wanted to learn, and I love to teach). But instead of making traditional American turkey and stuffing, and fish, and the whole shebang…or well, I’m still not sure what traditional Medellin Christmas dinner is.
(Pretty much what every other meal is here, fried meat, with fried plantains, beans, rice, and a tiny salad…just to be healthy.)
There seemed to be some outdoor, impromptu fire pits, and lots of milk-based gelatinous desserts, some full of large chunks of wood (aka. cinnamon bark) and called (deceptively) Natilla…
(not to be confused with the ever so decadent chocolate hazelnut spread Nutella.) Natilla is pretty good, if you don’t mind the day old pudding texture. (Its like harder pudding….which the fact that I ate it and liked it shows how good it is considering my aversion to slimy foods. I don’t even like Jell-O really.)
No this Christmas we had homemade meat spaghetti sauce and apple pie. Yes, we went to the La Minorista (the indoor farmer’s market), and came back to spend hours slaving over the stove making homemade meat sauce. Sauce with pork, and sausage, and a ridiculous amount of basil and fresh herbs.
There was also my favourite holiday dish ever.. APPLE PIE (ok, so I’ll make up a holiday if it means I get to have apple pie).
It is so incredibly American..but I love apple pie and actually get quite upset if it is not made for every holiday. So I decided to make homemade apple pie (homemade the crust and all). And teach my friend how to peel apples for his first time.
My friend never had peeled apples, let alone with a knife, yet this kid has some crazy savant knife skills.
HE ACTUALLY GOT A WHOLE APPLE PEELED IN ONE PIECE!
(I’ve been peeling apples for years and have only done that like twice!)
It was the most non-Colombian-American traditional Christmas I think either of us ever had, but I had so much fun being in another country, learning about Baby Jesus vs. Santa Clause
( I really thought Santa was universal, and I’m still pretty sure he’d win in a fight against baby Jesus),
and cooking all day in the kitchen to have, well, just really yummy dinner!
This was the apple pie the next day. We devoured it. Apple pie is not just great for holidays…cold apple pie also makes a delicious breakfast (its fruit, its healthy…as healthy as any other food in Medellin), and lunch, and midday snack….
I loved being in Medellin for Christmas, and getting to celebrate it with my friend and his family. I want to spend more holidays in other countries to see how else these holidays are celebrated.