Traditional Holiday Foods From Around The World (PHOTOS)

12/21/2011 08:08 am ET | Updated Feb 20, 2012

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.

--Howie Kahn

World's Most Traditional Holiday Foods