In my family, food defines holidays. Butcher-made hot dogs reign on the Fourth of July. Red beat eggs take over Easter. And Thanksgiving’s solidified by Nana and Pop Pop’s home-made mashed potatoes. But no holiday compares to the food fest known as Christmas.
Christmas isn’t marked by a single food or even a traditional dish. Instead, it’s comprised of all of the favorites, no matter how strangely they pair together.
Christmas Eve breakfast — 9:00 a.m.
It all starts with Christmas Eve breakfast. Every Christmas Eve my family wakes up and heads down to Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market. If you haven’t been there, it’s a mecca for food lovers, boasting everything from Amish shoofly pie to an oyster bar.
While the market houses to two diners and a hand-rolled doughnut shop, my family loves to start the morning right with a warm rotisserie chicken, washed down with fresh-squeezed orange juice. The combination has no right making sense, but it does.
Next, we divide and conquer, scouring the market for our yearly stands. I typically head up collecting gyros (pronounced YEE-rows for those non-Greeks) and an assortment of cheeses mostly consisting of Gouda.
I love food. All types of food. Fresh food, cooked food, fermented food, I love it all. I’ve never been a picky eater and this is an attribute I am thankful for everyday. Food is too fun to restrict.
Even through I’m the furthest thing from picky, there is one food which I can’t stand – cilantro.
Cilantro, technically named coriander, is a leafy herb that looks similar to parsley. It’s used in many cuisines throughout the world, but I typically come across it when I’m eating Mexican food.
People describe its flavor as fresh and light, but I’ve never tasted these attributes. When I eat cilantro, I get a bitter soapy flavor and immediately spit it out.
I thought my visceral reaction to cilantro was a freak thing, until I started asking my family about it. Apparently, my brother, sister and dad all hate the stuff too. My mom stands as the lone cilantro proponent in our household.
Everyone loves pizza and everyone loves quesadillas. These two truths inspired my most recent culinary creation – the quesadilla pizza!
My roommate had left over pizza toppings from a recent pizza making extravaganza (there’s not better way to explain it, so I’ll leave it at that). I had whole wheat tortillas left from my Distrito inspired fish tacos, so I decided to combine the two to make a quick, no purchase necessary dinner.
Here’s all you need.
Quesadilla Pizza Ingredients: (Serves 2)
- 4 whole wheat tortillas
- 1 can pizza sauce
- 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
For a basic pizza stop there. If you want to be adventurous add:
- 1/4 cup chopped broccoli
- 1/4 cup chopped red pepper
- 1/4 cup black olives
Distrito Inspired Tilapia Fish Taco
My favorite food is fish tacos. Not just any fish taco, specifically Jose Garces‘ mahi-mahi tacos from his restaurant Distrito. I never liked fish tacos until I tried Chef Garces’ version. I was skeptical at first, but one bite turned me into a fish taco junkie.
The mahi-mahi tacos start with a freshly made tortilla that is smothered with a chipotle remoulade (a spicy tarter sauce). Then they are topped with a beautifully crisp piece of mahi-mahi, one tender strip of avocado and a tangy cabbage slaw.
Simple, bold and delicious.
I’ve found Chef Garces’ fish taco recipe online, but it’s rather involved and time consuming. College is great for teaching you how to cut corners, so I’ve come up with my own, simpler version of Chef Garces’ culinary masterpiece. Nothing can replace the real thing, but this is a successful and healthy stand-in for when a fish taco craving hits.
Distrito Inspired Tilapia Los Tacos Ingredients: (Serves 2)