Noche Buena is a traditional Christmas Eve dinner that is served after members of the Family have attended the evening mass called Misa de Gallo. It is an occasions where family members and friends gather at home to celebrate Christmas with sumptuous foods. Following are pictures of some of the foods that are commonly displayed on the table during the Noche Buena by many Filipino families especially the Roman Catholics. Other Filipinos because of their religious belief do not celebrate Christmas.
Lechon- is a popular pork dish for many Filipinos. The body cavity of suckling pig is stuffed with spices and seasonings. The whole pig is skewered and roasted over burning charcoal in a rotisserie action. Filipinos prefer to serve foods buffet style during special occasion. With that setting the whole lechon is put on the table, and family members or guests take their piece of it by slicing the meat all by themselves.
Ham- is made from the processed hind leg of a swine. It is also a popular dish during the holiday season. Some people prefer the commercial ready-made ham while others like it home or custom made.
Torta- resembles a large cup cake. It is also served during occasions such as fiesta, birthday, Christmas and New Year. Commercially made torta is available, but the home and custom made one tastes much better because of the ingredients that are used in baking it.
Suman- is also one of the favorite treats for many occasions. It is made from glutinous rice that is boiled with coconut milk. It is then steamed wrapped with banana or coconut leaves. Eaten as a snack or a dessert, it is usually sprinkled with sugar. Suman goes with hot coffee or chocolate.
Queso de bola- or cheese ball is associated with the Christmas season by Filipinos. It is for this reason that this cheese abound in the supermarket shelves during the Christmas season and is scarce in any other season of the year. The cheese is usually eaten as filling of bread.
Apples, grapes and oranges- although these fruits are not indigenous to the country, Filipinos love it as their fruits during the Christmas season. These fruits used to be mostly imported from the US or Japan, but the liberalization of trade with China has made them become cheaper and widely available. Most of these fruits in the markets now come from China.
Cake- Western in origin, the cake has become one of the popular baked foods for the Filipinos for their snack and dessert. The cake is one of the treats on the table on such occasion as fiesta, birthdays, Christmas and New Year.
Fried chicken- although less popular than a lechon, the deep fried chicken is also a favorite during the Noche Buena. Maybe the reason is that that it is easier to cook and prepare than a ham or a lechon. A chicken meat would also give diversity to the primarily pork based main course dishes that already include lechon and ham.
Ice cream and fruit salads- Filipinos also love sweet foods. On top of their lists are ice cream and fruit salads. Women and children love them. And so do adult men. The tropical climate of the country makes these desserts an ideal all-season treat for most Filipinos.