How To Spice Up Your Family Gatherings

The seasons can really start to grind on you when you hear the same songs and eat the same foods year after year, without break. Variety is the spice of life, and the family traditions and holidays definitely lack that spice. Fortunately, there are plenty of traditions beyond your own for you to choose from. You could try making some of the dishes that your friends have with their families, or you could go even further outside your comfort zone and cook some of the recipes that are popular in other countries.

Take, for example, our neighbor to the south: Mexico. The popularity of Mexican cuisine year-round is enough to prove that Mexican culture knows what it’s doing when it comes to food. Since we can enjoy Mexican recipes any other time of the year, why not during special event like the Superbowl or Easter? Traditional American holiday fare tends to be savory or incredibly sweet, but what about the sweet and spicy mix that is Mexican food? There are more than enough traditional Mexican dishes to populate a whole dinner menu – or to spread across several years of family gatherings, with a few recipes here and there adding something new to your usual Sunday dinner.

Have a Drink

If you live in one of the colder parts of North America, then you know the value of a hot chocolate. Mexican cuisine has its own unique take on the hot chocolate drink, one that has been adopted by baristas around the country: this drink uses Mexican chocolate, which includes almond and cinnamon flavors, with a pinch of cayenne or chili powder thrown in at the end to give the drink a real kick. If you want to clear the sinuses and feel that inner warmth that is so wonderful after you get in from the cold, Mexican hot chocolate is a great way to do it. You can also serve the hot chocolate as a dessert after dinner.

You can also serve ponche to warm everyone up. Ponche is essentially a hot punch to be served during the holidays using sugar, fruit, and piloncillo – an unrefined sugar also known as panela. Regardless of the drink or drinks you decide to serve, just make sure it’s festive, sweet, and warm – this is, after all, is a special occasion!

Something to Sink Your Teeth Into

Another great dessert for dinner is bunuelos. Bunuelos are a sweet, light fritter that is eaten during the several weeks leading up to Christmas itself, as the holiday season is celebrated – truly celebrated – in Mexico for several weeks leading up to the actual day. Why not celebrate all year round? Bunuelos are easy to make: All you’ll need is…

  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1¾ cups flour
  • Oil to fry

With your ingredients in place, you combine two tablespoons of sugar and eggs in a bowl and beat it until the mixture is creamy. Then, add milk, butter, and salt, and beat until it is combined. Slowly add flour to mix it into a batter. Heat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, then fry! You can eve use a bunuelo mold if you want to be really hardcore about it. 

The most popular and widely eaten Mexican food is tamales. Sometimes they are made as desserts with nuts and spices inside, but often they are made using pork or another meat. Tamales are a time-consuming food to make, and so, like much American holiday food – turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing – it is only made when there are plenty of relatives about to help. You can turn your tamale-making process into an assembly line, with everyone spending time together while they put together a whole pile of tamales for the family to enjoy this holiday.

You don’t have to make your entire party a Mexican fiesta; in fact, that may not go very well, as one thing that is nice about the dining is, in fact, the predictability and comfort of it. That doesn’t mean you can’t introduce new traditions, though. The Mexican food novelty of this year could very well be asked to make a return next year, and the year after that, until you have children of your own and you’re making them their traditional Super Bowl tamales on a particularly chilly Sunday morning. Just make sure you get them to help!

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