Ruiz Family Christmas Menu

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This post originally appeared on Best Western’s’s blog, where I regularly contribute stories. I was compensated for this post but the opinions are mine.

For us Cubans, Thanksgiving, Christmas AND the New Year are ripe times for a traditional pig roast on a special, home-style oven called “La Caja China.” Traditionally, we accompany the roast with some sweet plantains, Cuban black beans, white rice and yucca.

While I love the Cuban cuisine I grew up with, my own traditions shifted after marrying my Mexican-American wife 10 years ago. In our home, the tradition in the kitchen is all things Tex-Mex. For me and my family, there’s nothing quite like Tex-Mex for the holidays.

This holiday season, we’ll once again gather amongst friends and family to eat Mexican tamales, Mexican rice, Mexican beans (delicious, but no match to Cuban black beans, if you ask my daughters) and buñuelos (crispy tortillas coated in cinnamon and sugar). Adding that Texas flare to the mix, you can count on some tender brisket, because nobody – and I mean nobody – makes better brisket than Texans do.

Unfortunately, it’s tricky to find good Tex-Mex cuisine outside of, well, Texas. While in Austin for the holidays, we plan to hit up our favorite traditional family restaurant, Aranda’s, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dining at Aranda’s is a favorite Christmas pastime of ours – whether that be huevos rancheros for breakfast, or “pollo a la plancha” (grilled chicken) with rice, beans and avocados for lunch. My soda intake for the year is limited to that glass bottle of Jarritos lime or strawberry Mexican soda I enjoy at Aranda’s.

As much as I equally love my Cuban and Tex-Mex culinary traditions, I’ve never understood why turkey, sweet potatoes and gravy only seem appetizing during the holidays. While Cubans are accustomed to eating roasted pork all holiday season, my wish is to be able to do the same with turkey. I’m in favor of adding that tradition to my long, diverse list of holiday menu items.

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