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From Feast of the Seven Fishes to tamales, Christmas brings rich food traditions

Fabio Sangregorio/Unsplash

Editor's note: This segment originally aired Dec. 21.

Nevada holiday dining traditions are as varied as the state, one of America’s most diverse.

With options that go far beyond turkey and ham, Nevadans can sample a global array of seasonal cuisine without leaving home.

Many Italian restaurants and families will be serving the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Christmas Eve seafood dinner.

“They may have different kinds of fish, different kinds of shellfish, it adds up to seven,” said Nevada Public Radio producer Lorraine Blanco Moss, who is also a chef. “That lucky number that's in the Bible all over the place. And it is delicious.”

People of Swedish descent will often celebrate the holidays with glogg, a hot spiced wine, and a smorgasbord.

While the word has come to be synonymous with any buffet or feast, a traditional smorgasbord is “like an extended charcuterie board that traditionally is Christmas ham, pork sausage, herring salad, and liver pâté,” Blanco Moss said.

Many Hispanic families come together over the holidays to make and enjoy tamales, which have recipes that vary by region and tradition.

“When we eat tamales at a restaurant, we have one, two maybe,”  Blanco Moss said. “In Latino families, they literally give out dozens of tamales to each family member.

“In order to do that they need an assembly line of workers. That's where your family comes in. So you're going to have your family lined up to assemble tamales.”

Lorraine Blanco Moss, producer, Nevada Public Radio

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Lorraine Blanco Moss is the host of KNPR's award-winning Asian American Pacific Islander podcast, Exit Spring Mountain. She's also a former producer for State of Nevada, specializing in food and hospitality, women's issues, and sports.