Noche Buena is translated as “Good Night” in Spanish. It refers to the night of Christmas Eve. For the Spanish, Cubans, Philipinos and Latin Americans it is an evening consisting of a traditional dinner with family. The meal is usually served late and ends with the midnight mass. Our dinner is served at 6:00pm because we have little ones, we do not attend midnight mass and usually do not have any biological family here.
It is a tradition I celebrated occasionally growing up with my mom's side of the family. She was born in Santiago, Cuba as were her brother and sisters...making me 1/2 Cuban.
THE TRADITIONAL DINNER:
Pig Roast “lechon asado” (sometimes the whole pig roasted in a pit outside)
Black Beans & Rice – this year we opted for Moros which is the rice and beans cooked together
Maduros – friend sweet plantains
Yucca with mojo – a starchy dish (similar to a potato) with mojo which is the sauce consisting of Garlic Cloves, Salt, Black peppercorns (whole),Oregano
Sour orange juice (In a pinch, use two parts orange to one part lemon and one part lime)
Cuban bread – from Wikipedia “Cuban bread is a fairly simple white bread, similar to French bread and Italian bread, but has a slightly different cooking method and ingredient list (in particular, it generally includes a small amount of fat in the form of lard or vegetable shortening); it is usually made in long, baguette-like loaves. It is a staple of Cuban-American cuisine and is necessary to make an authentic Cuban sandwich” DO NOT BE FOOLED BY IMITATION CUBAN BREAD…SOME GROCERY STORES PUT A SLIT IN FRENCH BREAD AND CALL IT CUBAN BREAD…THERE IS NO COMPARISON!
Flan – described here as an “an upscale, classy custard” or “elegant, rich dessert”
THE FAMILY OR LA FAMILIA:
Well for us that changes every year. This is our one big outreach, we invite friends and anyone we come across that does not have anywhere to go or anyone to spend Christmas with. It has been interesting over the years to see how it has changed. We have one family that comes every year.
One year we volunteered at a local recovery ministry, so they opened their doors for us to have it there and we had over 50 people. We sang Christmas songs and had a spontaneous candlelight ceremony. It is by far my most precious Christmas memory.
We had 30 people come to our house this year and it was a blessing. There were a lot of needs represented here and we always consider it an honor to include anyone the Lord lays on our hearts. We did not talk about anyone’s needs or even pray for them during the course of the evening, but I believe everyone was ministered to. We all just enjoyed each other’s company and the food.
This year I opted not to make the meal myself and was blessed that an authentic Cuban restaurant opened close by. We ordered all the food except the flan and THE FLAN FLOPPED. It has never happened before, but this year the sugar burnt which is the beginning of the process and it went downhill from there. I made three and they all flopped because I made them together. The good news is I have been healed of perfectionism, so they were served. I did not feel compelled to make them over or not serve them. I served them and everyone ate them and liked (some even loved) them. I celebrated that victory and praised the Lord!
Everyone brought a dish or two or three, so the food was abundant.
Here our some pictures from our dinner:
God providing this opportunity for us over and over again has blessed me immensely. The people who enter our home on this night never know the extent of the blessing they offer to me and my family. If you are in town next year consider this your early invitation to our "Noche Buena".