The holidays are upon us, which means family, friends, and dishes that we look forward to all year long. However, with some delicacies, there are reasons why they are only revealed and recreated for special occasions.  Some take massive amounts of effort, others are definitely acquired tastes, and some are only available at specific times of the season. Here are a couple of creations that are gracing the tables of celebrations across the world!

Panettone Bread- Tired of the traditional fruitcake?  Want to avoid the awkward smile and forced “thank you” when you unwrap the sugary brick from its paper at a family gathering? Then panettone might be for you! This Italian Christmas bread originates from Milan and is enjoyed primarily in Europe and areas of South America. Each large, circular loaf stands about 12 to 15 inches high, and can weigh up to 1kg. The dough is made through a process similar to sourdough where it is cured for a long period of time before baking. Proofing can take several days, making the texture light and fluffy instead of the dense doorstops we are used to in the United States. Commonly found folded into the body are fruits such as raisins, citron, candied orange, and lemon zest, but you can find variations that are plain or paired with chocolate. Eaten in slices with sweet hot beverages or wine, many choose to eat panettone with marscapone cream.

Lutefisk- Norwegians are not known for their sense of humor, and lutefisk may be the reason why. Made from white fish or cod, the perfectly good animal is dried and prepared in a series of lye treatments, turning the flesh into an extremely pungent jelly. When cured, lutefish has a pH of 11-12, meaning that it is caustic and has to be soaked in water for several days in order to be edible. Afterwards, the delicacy is ready to be carefully cooked, so not as to fall apart. There are several ways to cook lutefisk, none of them particularly appetizing. It can be steamed, baked, parboiled, and even microwaved.  Once consumed, it is very important to wash the residue from dishware and surfaces immediately as it can become impossible to remove and permanently destroy silver.

To quote Garrison Keillor: “Lutefisk is cod that has been dried in a lye solution. It looks like the desiccated cadavers of squirrels run over by trucks, but after it is soaked and reconstituted and the lye is washed out and it’s cooked, it looks more fish-related, though with lutefisk, the window of success is small. It can be tasty, but the statistics aren’t on your side. It is the hereditary delicacy of Swedes and Norwegians who serve it around the holidays, in memory of their ancestors, who ate it because they were poor. Most lutefisk is not edible by normal people. It is reminiscent of the afterbirth of a dog or the world’s largest chunk of phlegm.”

Veggiedukken- Not enough of a carnivore/glutton for the Turdukken? Good, you may have saved yourself a fortune on medical bills.  As a more healthy alternative, set your forks to stun and take a bite of Dan Pashman’s the Veggiedukken.  Instead of animals forced inside each other like some sort of culinary Spanish Inquisition, the Veggiedukken features yams inside leeks inside a banana squash. Each layer is separated by vegetarian stuffing, making a filling and surprisingly easy-to-prepare centerpiece that looks and tastes impressive.

Cherpumple- Another a variation on the Turducken, the Cherpumple is a diabetic coma-inducing delicacy that consists of a triple layered pie embedded in a cake. The original version of this decadent dessert was made from a cherry, pumpkin, and apple pie wrapped in a layer of cake. If you decide to create and ingest one of these-I guess the proper term is “monstrosity”- then make sure you have a healthy helping of vegetables beforehand.  May I suggest a Veggiedukken?

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