Global food traditions brighten the holiday table

Global food traditions brighten the holiday table

Global food traditions brighten the holiday table
Holiday food traditions come from many places. Mia’s family celebrates Hanukah with crispy fried potato latkes.

CONCORD, CA (Dec. 14, 2021) — Holiday customs in California are as diverse as its population, with immigrants bringing many wonderful and eclectic food traditions to our shores from around the world.

We are fortunate to have a climate where fruits and vegetables can be grown and harvested throughout the year, allowing these new inhabitants to easily grow their distinct and varied produce in a new country. We are also lucky to be the recipients of their hard work and delicious produce.

This month, I am featuring the food and cultural traditions of the Pacific Coast Farmers Market Association staff. In a survey about their family’s holiday traditions and favorite foods time of year, they mentioned winter squash, persimmons, pomegranates, Brussels sprouts, citrus and potatoes most often. At the Concord Farmers Market, you’ll find Diaz Farms from Fowler with citrus, J&M Farms from Hollister with Brussels sprouts and Halog Farms Merced with potatoes.

Family traditions

Ashley Olivera-Cortez, direct marketing coordinator, says her family’s favorite things to do are watch football and movies and drink mulled cider. “We make our traditional roasted garlicky Brussel sprouts with bacon and pecans,” she adds.

Market manager Mia Simmans says she and her family lights the candles for Hanukah and make latkes. Her favorite thing about working the farmers markets during the holidays is that the markets feels so festive.

“My family gets together to make the traditional tamales at Christmas – and I get to taste-test them,” notes market manager Jason Rodriguez. He also loves all the winter squash available during December.

“My family and I typically make pancakes the day of Christmas and drink mimosas, Irish coffee, eggnog or hot toddies,” says regional manager Lis Garon. “I love my mom’s prime rib recipe, and I love the beautiful wreaths sold at farmers markets.”

Market manager Dimitri Hagnéré says his family piles in the car and tours Candy Cane Lane and looks at holiday lights. “We have Dungeness crab and hot cider for the holidays, and I make cannoli from scratch – a family tradition.”

Other staff members enjoy seeing their families, baking cookies, playing Santa for the kids and savoring the holiday atmosphere.

There are as many different traditions as there are families, each one unique yet familiar. We hope you hold on to your traditions and enjoy this holiday season with the ones you love.

Mia’s Latkes

  • 2 c. peeled and shredded potatoes
  • 1-2 T grated onion, as desired
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • ½ c. vegetable oil (or schmaltz)

Place the potatoes in a cheesecloth to get as much moisture out as possible. They need to be dry to get crispy latkes.
In a medium bowl, stir together the potatoes, onion, eggs, flour and salt.

In a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until hot. Place large spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the hot oil, pressing down to form ¼ to ½ inch thick patties, about 3-4 inches in diameter. Brown on one side, turn and brown on the other.

Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve hot with applesauce or sour cream.

The Concord Farmers Market is in Todos Santos Plaza Tuesdays from 9am to 2pm.