It’s that time of the year when we all start saving up for gym memberships and new clothes before our old shirts cut off our circulation. It’s all worth it, though, as we get to spend time with friends and family while being surrounded by plenty of good food.
I’m personally looking forward to this Noche Buena more than the past years as I’ve just finished my diet last week. (I cheated on it all the time, but it’s the thought that counts, right?) Still, with all the great dishes we get year in and year out, there are a few that we just really need to stop placing on the table. Here are a few which just don’t go with the season.
1. Macaroni Salad
I need to put a disclaimer here as I love my mom’s macaroni salad, and I risk being disowned if she ever gets wind of this article. (I’m talking about everyone else’s salad mom, not yours.)
While it isn’t unique to the Philippines, macaroni salad has been elevated from a side dish status here to almost a main course. It isn’t that uncommon to see plates loaded with the stuff. This leads you to get full way before you get to the good stuff. And anything that stops you from filling up on lengua, chicken galantina, and roast beef should make you think twice from placing it on the Noche Buena table.
2. That Sad, Spongy Leche Flan
A properly made leche flan is the perfect way to end any meal. It’s just the right amount of sweet and it’s heavy enough to make you stop wanting to go back for seconds. At Christmas time, however, someone always gets the bright idea of making their own leche flan because “it’s easy” and “it’s more personal.” This almost always ends up horribly wrong, and the flan ends up with more holes than your boyfriend’s alibi on why he got home late last night.
Here’s a pro-tip for those who’d want to avoid giving away leche sponges, there are plenty of eateries which have perfected making leche flan, and they’re pretty cheap too. Just grab three for that Noche Buena you’re going to; everyone will be the happier for it.
They’re a staple for any Filipino feast, and understandably so. There’s nothing as satisfying as cracking open that shell and getting to that sweet and juicy meat. And what about all that crab fat and roe? Place that over your steamed rice, and you’re set for a food coma.
It’s so good, even your shirt wants a taste of it. Take a look after you’ve gone through a couple of crabs and you’ll be sure to spot several streaks of orange roe and crab juice all over your Sunday best. Best to save crabs for a more casual event, one that won’t make you hide at the back when it comes to family picture taking time.
4. Ube and Keso Ice Cream
There comes a point in the night when the Tita that hosted dinner would ask “Who wants ice cream?” and you just hope and pray that they got Ben and Jerry’s this year. But the all too familiar tub comes out, and yes, it’s Ube and Keso again. Eventually, we’ll all reach that stage where we’ll actually look forward to Ube and Keso. But while you’re still enjoying your age, you’ll hope they’ll get chocolate at the least.
Like the bad Metro Manila Film Fest franchise movies, this novelty just refuses to die. There were actually a few years that went by without seeing a fruitcake as a centerpiece on the table. But unfortunately, it has made a comeback. Just like Ube and Keso ice cream, you’ll reach that time when you’ll enjoy the taste of fruitcake. For now, the only time fruitcake is acceptable is if it’s the Christmas album from the Eraserheads.