5 Dishes You Don’t Want to See on Your Noche Buena Spread

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.

3. Crabs

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.

5. Fruitcake


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.

What dishes are you NOT looking forward to seeing your Noche Buena table? What would you replace them with? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

42 Responses

  1. I LOVE fruitcake (the more moist and alcoholic it is, the better!) and ube-keso ice cream (down with crappy chocolate and pistachio and mint whathaveyou-nonsense!).

    OMG. Does this mean I am officially “tito” OLD?!!? o_O

    1. Hey Mark! HAHAHA we feel ya! Personally, I’m the sole lover of fruitcake here on the Pepper team and it’s like nobody! freaking!! understands!!! lol But I’m glad to take any and all unwanted fruitcake hehe

      ditto on the ube ice cream!

  2. Sorry man, love my fruitcakes, its the only time of the year i get to eat it so yeah. look forward to it. Leche flan, seriously? Any leche flan is good! as a whole Lyanera is gone in 6 seconds. This article is way too subjective man. The crabs we can agree to that but maybe how you justified each was a bit.. iffy.

  3. Oh maannnnnn… You really opened a can of worms this time, Nico. Are you and the rest of the Pepper staff going to take this article down?

  4. I saw people lining up to bring pizza home for their noche buena. That should be something no Filipino household should serve on the dinner that ushers in Christmas. That’s just sad.

    Our family did not serve any of these (we also didn’t serve pizza) during our noche buena but I still thought is article, in a Filipino food blog, was insensitive.

  5. We had Crabs and shrimps and had Selecta Keso ice cream. I didn’t care what we had i’m just glad i celebrated Christmas with my family after two years of not having that chance because of work. I liked my fingers to have that crab fat to satisfy my craving i didn’t care if i had that fat on my shirt i din’t care if i had drippings on my shirt. what mattered most was having the best time of my life with my family.


    I appreciate you writing this cause this is from your point of view, perhaps you would have just changed the title of this article to: 5 Dishes I don’t want to see on our Noche Buena.

  6. Relax guys! He just wants to talk about food for food’s sake. No need to go all pitchforks and torches on him. Nico, maybe be more careful with your choice of words and title.

    As for your list, I love fruit cake! I absolutely cannot let the holiday pass without it. Though, like your flan I like my fruitcake really moist and not bread-like or spongey. Yum! :3

  7. BOOOO! Where did you come from??? Didn’t anyone teach you how to be thankful for what you have in your table??? You live in a country where there are thousands of people who don’t have anything for their NOCHE BUENA. Such an insensitive Jerk!

  8. I am from Samar, my place was badly hit by typhoon Ruby, food is scarce. We celebrated noche buena with our homeless neighbors with very few food. The 5 dishes you mentioned that you don’t want to see in your noche buena is just a dream to us, how we wish those will touch our palates.

  9. Totally agree with the fruitcake… Why does this stuff even exist?

    I think a better angle for this article would be to tell how a bad noche buena food tastes like and how to remedy them. Like, using the ube and keso ice cream on a simple mais con yelo / halo-halo. Or doing something different with the macaroni salad (I personally add sour cream to my salad and it tastes DIVINE). Or how to cook and prep crabs in such a way that its not messy for your guests. Or how you can turn fruitcake into bread pudding.

    I love the illustrations. I truly am a fan of your style, Daniel 🙂

    1. Thanks, Regine! I just had these for Noche Buena, haha. I’m still not fond of fruitcake, though. 😛

  10. “and you just hope and pray that they got Ben and Jerry’s this year.”

    Are you kidding me? Sana hindi ka naman ganyan katrying hard masyado irl. HAHAHA

  11. Absolute faux pas. I’m a cook and I love and know food and I don’t agree with a lot of this. Except the crab, cos of convenience and to avoid a mess. With everything else, I think this is too much on the offensive against Filipino home cooks. Yes, as a culture, we don’t have that much of a fine appreciation for food (insert sweet spaghetti here) but we love what we love and you can’t fault an entire group of people for loving what they grew up with. You don’t have to bring your classism and pasosyal attitude to the party. Kung magpapasosyal lang naman…Ben & Jerry’s, really? That’s the height of your Quality-Ice-Cream pyramid? Instead of criticising local flavours, why not celebrate it? I find that in many aspects, a lot of Pinoys have little to no appreciation of their local products. You write articles that have the potential to influence some people’s views so I hope you espouse the responsibility seriously. And so what if someone’s flan has too many air bubbles? I’d much rather have something that someone I love slaved on rather than a silky one that was store-bought. Instead of dissing on other people’s preferred dishes (or maybe the only dishes they can afford), why not write an article on how to better make these so-called kitschy, jologs dishes? If you are truly fond of food, you wouldn’t write this kind of drivel.

    1. The sad thing is ‘yan talaga (with the exception of crabs, because come the fuck on, who serves crabs during Noche Buena?) ang mga handa ng mga tao rito tuwing Pasko. If these people could afford a “better” spread, hindi kaya naisip ng author na yun na sana ang inihanda ng mga tao? Kaya nakakainsulto lang talaga ito.

      At assuming na may pera naman yung mga tao pero itong mga bagay sa listahan pa rin ang piniling ihanda, well, usapin na talaga ng taste yun at wala nang pakialam yung author. Ayaw niya? ‘Wag siyang makikain. Tapos ang usapan.

      1. Neither in my family do we serve crabs during Christmas. Honestly, I have never heard of this before.

  12. People serve Ice Cream during Noche Buena? WEIRD!

    Having said that, if you don’t like Ube/Keso ice cream, go bring your own. And please, save your Ben and Jerrys during those Saturday Night binges. It’s Noche Buena, go local.

  13. This article just lambasted the food prepared by (maybe) 90% of Filipino families. Hindi lahat kayang bumili ng artisan ice cream, gumawa ng leche flan na itatapon ang egg white, hindi gumawa ng macaroni salad dahil ito Ang kasya sa budget nila. Ikaw kaya bumili ng maihahanda sa Noche buena gamit Ang budget ng pangkaraniwang Pilipino.

      1. Actually, I second Boj’s comment. I’m a big fan of this food blog, but this article just comes off as classist and insensitive. I mean, yes, there really are dishes that we’d rather not have on Christmas Eve. Usapin na ng taste yun, at alam nating wala namang pupuntahan ang usapin ng taste. Writing about it, however, is another story. Nagpa-publish ka sa madla kung saan lampas-kalahati ng tao ay hirap gumastos para sa Noche Buena.

        Don’t be so condescending, B. Get off your high horse.

      2. Truth be told, I’m less than impressed by this list too, but I didn’t feel the need to broadcast my feelings about it because, surprise surprise, it wasn’t worth my time. Having said that, there is also a case against those who are too defensive about their quote-unquote social statuses. It’s just as irritating.

        PS: Do I know you? Whoever you are, based on your reply, your horse is definitely much higher than mine. Get off yours and I’ll get off mine.

      3. i support boj’s reply as well.

        i will cook and eat what i want for noche buena regardless of the amount of budget i have.

      4. Now this statement, this statement I respect. THAT’S how you do it; straight to the point, and no pretenses.

        Kat, I want you to know that I agree with YOUR statement 100%. That’s it, that’s all that had to be said. Tapos ang usapan. Thank you.

  14. Wut. I’m obviously in the minority here, but I love me some fruitcake. Don’t want yours? Gimme!

    Stollen bread is love, too.

      1. Aren’t you the guy who said, “…we love what we love”?

  15. Hahahaha! Agreed on fruitcake. I hate that stuff with a passion. Whenever we’re given one, I’m tempted to give it to another person because it’s not worth the space it takes up in our kitchen.

    1. An urban legend says that there are only less than a hundred fruitcakes all over the world, because they all get passed on from one household to another!

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