The calendar may say it’s the most wonderful time of the year but maybe you aren’t feeling it quite yet. To help, we’ve asked some of our colleagues around the world to share their favorite holiday treats (no surprise, most are enjoyed with a beer!) that just might inspire new ways for you to celebrate this very unusual holiday season.
Starting south of the equator, you won’t find ‘chestnuts roasting on an open fire’ in December. Instead, it’s braai season (a.k.a. barbecue) in South Africa, where sizzling sausages and smoky, grilled meats are the main attraction.
“Some of my best holiday memories are of my family and friends sitting around a fire, enjoying the natural beauty of Cape Town with an ice-cold Castle Lager and braai,” says Lynn Wicomb-Leibrandt, head of external quality for AB InBev Africa. “It’s like heaven on earth.”
At the family home of Clarissa Pantoja, Director for Corona in Mexico, a pot of vatapá is always bubbling on the stove on Christmas.
“This is a traditional Afro-Brazilian meal popular in the northern part of the country where my family is from,” she explains. “It’s a heavy dish made with shrimp, nuts and spices, and it’s a perfect match for an easy drinking beer, like Skol.”
Vatapá also tops the holiday menu for Carolina Coelho Loureiro, our Beer Knowledge and Culture Ambassador in Brazil. Her family prepares a similar stew made with fish, called Moqueca de Peixe.
“Both these foods are made with coconut milk and palm oil, meaning they have a strong flavor and are slightly greasy,” says Carolina. “For balance, we like to pair them with an IPA, such as Goose IPA or Colorado Indica.”
Heading north to the US, Max Bakker isn’t afraid to admit that his favorite holiday indulgence is a little polarizing. “It’s true, I’m a big fan of fruitcake,” he says. “I order one every year from my favorite bakery in Texas to enjoy throughout the holidays.”
Max is a Master Cicerone® so naturally he pairs his fruitcake with beer. He suggests a winter ale that has “rich malt flavors of toffee, walnut, molasses, and light milk chocolate balanced by a nice moderate hop bitterness, fruity hop aroma and a warming finish”. In other words, it goes perfectly with a dense cake filled with rum-soaked dried fruits.
Ryan Daley, a fellow Master Cicerone®, is also a traditionalist when it comes to holiday treats. His go-to is a classic peanut butter blossom cookie with a pint of irish stout.
“One of my favorites is Breckenridge Nitro Irish Stout,” he says. “The bitterness and roast character of the stout perfectly contrast with the sweetness of the cookie.”
Traveling further to Moscow, you’d best have two unique salads on your table for New Year’s Eve, says Galina Petrushkina, our Organization Development Manager.
“In Russia and Ukraine, we always have a colorful, layered salad called, ‘herring under a fur coat’ and olivier salad,” she says. “I know the mixture of ingredients may seem very weird, but I was brought up with this festive meal so it’s a favorite!”
And on New Year’s Day, rice cake soup called ‘tteokguk’ is a beloved tradition for our PR Specialist Joon Woo Kim in Seoul, Korea.
“My family eats this soup to signify we are becoming another year older,” he says. “It’s starchy and comforting, made with sliced rice cakes in beef broth, and goes well with the fresh and light taste of Cass, Korea’s most popular beer.”
No matter where in the world or what’s on their table, all our colleagues agreed that there’s one thing that makes this time year of special, even when the pandemic has many of us celebrating while at a distance.
“Any time spent with your family and the people you love, it warms your heart,” says Joon. “Those are the best holiday memories.”