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Cuban pierna asada

  HAVANA — The Cuban authorities government began promoting New Year's Eve as a secular alternative to Christmas after Fidel Castro's communist revolution in 1959. It wasn't until Pope John Paul II's historic visit in 1998 that Castro put the holiday back on the calendar. Although Cuba today is caught between two holidays, there's one constant: roast pork, one of the few unifiers for a culture too often split by politics.

Philippines: New Year's Eve Lechon

  BANGKOK — What do you get when you add Spanish colonists and Chinese settlers to an island population that already raises swine? A stew of cultures with sublime pork skills.

Peruvian pisco sour

  LIMA — Like much of the world, Peruvians devour turkey for their Christmas meal, usually with rice, apple puree and a salad of potatoes, apples and raisins. Yet if anyone — at least in the West — thinks that's unoriginal, it bears recalling that turkeys come from the Americas and were unknown in the Old World prior to 1492. The feast for “Navidad,” as the holiday’s called in Spanish, is typically washed down with wine, especially champagne or some other sparkling white, as well as the classic Peruvian cocktail of pisco sour. 

Italian stuffed capon

BRUSSELS — Christmas Day lunch in Italy is a long family affair that will run though pasta dishes like lasagne or tortellini in brodo before a big roast. Lamb raised on the hills around Rome is a popular choice in the capital. Elsewhere, many prefer a stuffed and roast capon.

Danish almond rice

BRUSSELS — The frenchified name of Denmark's favorite Yuletide dessert dates back to the days when its key ingredients - rice, almonds and vanilla - were an exotic imported luxury reserved for special occasions. 

Portuguese Christmas Eve salt cod

BRUSSELS — In much of Europe, Christmas Eve is a meat-free feast. Portuguese families gather before midnight mass for a meal of salt cod, the national staple for which there are reputed to be more recipes than days of the year. 

Chinese New Year cake

HONG KONG — One of the most spectacular meals in Hong Kong happens every Chinese New Year. Typically around late January or early February, Chinese New Year is a festive family celebration, often featuring a variety of dishes chosen for their propitious, fortune-bearing names. Here is one typical dish enjoyed in the Southern Chinese, or Cantonese, cooking tradition prevalent in Hong Kong.

Indian duck curry, Christian style

NEW DELHI — There are around 25 million Christians in India, concentrated in northeastern states such as Mizoram and Nagaland, near the border of Myanmar; and in the former Portuguese colonies of Goa and Kerala. But for my money the best Christian grub comes from Kerala, the state known here as “God's own country.”
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