Long before you sit down to Christmas dinner in Ethiopia, preparations are under way. Farmers buy lambs early to fatten them up for yebeg wot, the thick, buttery berbere-spiced stew that locals know and expect.
After all, holiday meals are judged by a different set of standards than any other kind. You may like your dish dry because that's what pleased you as a child. Memory is the juicier thing. Such sentimentality is a shared global matter, but food traditions are decidedly local -- and reveal much about a destination.
The same old, same old won't necessarily be available abroad, so if you're leaving home for the holidays, embrace the opportunity to savor the season as celebrated in another part of the world. Every place has specialties, prepared with love and idiosyncrasies similar to your own. If you're away from your own traditions, we bet the local ones, wherever you are, will make you feel just as sated -- and may even inspire you to introduce a new dish back at home.
Part of the 12-course Holy Night feast on January 6, this soup is thickened with Soviet roux: oil, flour, and the liquid rendered from sautéing onions. See More Traditional Holiday Foods Photo: Gemma Petrie
French-Canadians pack ground, minced, or cubed meat (salmon in coastal areas) into a piecrust and serve it with ketchup or savory fruit relish starting on Christmas Eve and ending on New Year’s.See More Traditional Holiday FoodsPhoto: Tom Magliery
Served on Boxing Day (December 26), this Eurasian dish also known as Devil’s Curry incorporates Christmas leftovers: chicken, cocktail sausages, cabbage, and cucumbers are stewed in a spicy rempah gravy.See More Traditional Holiday FoodsPhoto: Jerome Taylor
Eating a plate of buckwheat noodles before midnight on New Year’s Eve to bring longevity and prosperity for the next 12 months is an age-old tradition.See More Traditional Holiday FoodsPhoto: Kyota Tanaka
Order sarmale in Bucharest around Christmas, and you get a time-tested staple that goes back to the Ottoman Empire: cabbage rolls packed with pork, beef, and rice, and boiled in tomato sauce. Variations are also served across the Balkans and Central Europe. See More Traditional Holiday FoodsPhoto: Profimedia International / Alamy
Follow Travel + Leisure on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TravlandLeisure