Noche Buena

I’ve always loved Christmas, but I love Noche Buena even more.

Noche Buena is the name for a customary celebration on Christmas Eve in many Spanish-speaking countries; it literally means “good night.” When we still lived in the Philippines, my whole family would sit down for a huge dinner after Midnight Mass. As a kid, I’d be giddy with lack of sleep and anticipation. On Noche Buena, we got to open some presents before Christmas Day. On Noche Buena, almost all my favorite foods were on the table.

One particular Noche Buena stands out in my memory. It was the last celebration before we moved to Boston ten years ago. My sister Monica is deaf-blind, and my family left the Philippines so she could study at the Perkins School for the Blind in nearby Watertown, Masschusetts. It was also our last Noche Buena with Uncle Jun.

That night, my parents prepared a spread that brimmed with traditional Filipino dishes, food that has been influenced by centuries of Spanish colonization and Chinese settlers. We had a scrumptious mix of appetizers: Chinese cured ham (air-dried and bone-in pork leg, smothered in sweet honey and wine glaze), queso de bola (an Edam cheese ball covered in red wax), and warm crusty pan de sal (Filipino bread rolls) with butter.

There was Filipino tsokolate, a drink made from tablea (cocoa disks with ground peanuts) dissolved in hot milk and frothed with a batidor (wooden whisk) in a small aluminum pot by my mother. I have never had hot chocolate that’s better than her tsokolate: It is thick, frothy, and creamy, with the perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness from the tablea….

To continue reading, please go to Talking Writing.

Note: This piece appears in the December 2010 issue of Talking Writing, where I am the social media consultant and a contributor. Happy reading, and happy holidays! – Bianca


12 Responses to “Noche Buena”

  1. #
    Emily posted December 16, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    What a beautiful story – thanks for sharing this, Bianca! I’m glad this year you have another memorable Noche Buena planned.

  2. #
    Jenn @ Frost Bites posted December 16, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Reminds me of my younger years…. I miss that a lot…. especially during the holiday season. Thanks for sharing the story.

  3. #
    Elizabeth posted December 16, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Bianca, thank you so much for sharing this story. It’s so true. Food is capable of capable of retaining so many memories and sensations. I really enjoyed reading it.

  4. #
    Liz @ IHeartVegetables posted December 16, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    That’s so cool! Thanks for posting that :) I love the way food brings back certain memories :)

  5. #
    MelissaNibbles posted December 16, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Thanks for sharing this with us. Beautiful story.

  6. #
    Meghan@travelwinedine posted December 17, 2010 at 11:36 am

    This is so heartwarming! The chocolate sounds amazing.

  7. #
    justin posted December 17, 2010 at 11:58 am

    This is a great post. I really like the idea of a celebration that is simply about having a “good night.”

  8. #
    thehealthyapron posted December 17, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    What a beautiful story to share!

  9. #
    Chocolate Freckles posted December 17, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    I love noche buena too!.. It has a little bit of magic that makes your heart just a little warmer!

  10. #
    Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun posted December 17, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    I love all the special parts of holidays that bring out memories. I hope the rest of yours are fabulous!

  11. #
    Susan posted December 20, 2010 at 12:52 am

    Thanks for sharing this story!


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