SINGAPORE - Dogs, bats, Kentucky Fried Chicken and barramundi will grace
dinner tables across the Asia Pacific this Christmas, a festival celebrated with
lots of cheer, and very little turkey, in this mainly non-Christian region.
Christmas Day is seen as a
foreign, Western festival in many countries in Asia but that doesn't stop
millions of people from cooking up banquets of local food unheard of in the
Vietnamese women sell roast dog at a streetcorner market in
Hanoi in this January 5, 2006 file photo. [Reuters]
In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country which also has a
substantial Christian community, Christmas feasts include delicacies such as
pork soaked in blood and dog meat.
"We usually hold a family gathering at our parents' house or in-laws' house
after Christmas eve mass," said Ermida Simanjuntak, a Batak Christian
Indonesian. "We do not exchange gifts, we use this event more to meet and talk."
In the eastern island of Sulawesi, some Manado Christians swear by kawok, or
garden rats, cooked with chilies and garlic, and paniki, or bats, cooked in
"Paniki's meat tastes almost the same as kawok but it has more muscles," said
Manadonese Stephen Lapian. "But if you cut the arm pit in a wrong way, it will
be very stinky."
In Japan, many people head to Kentucky on Christmas - Kentucky Fried
Chicken, that is.
The fast food joints do a roaring trade over the Christmas period, with
restaurants turning away customers on December 24 if they haven't booked their
chicken in advance.
"Over the period from 23rd to 25th December, sales can be as high as ten
times normal levels," said Sumeo Yokokawa, of the public relations department at
Kentucky Fried Chicken Japan.
The Kentucky Christmas habit started in 1974, after a foreign customer
mentioned to a store manager that he had come to buy fried chicken because he
was unable to find turkey in Japan. His words inspired a sales campaign that
"The fashion at the time was to have a nice American-style
Christmas," said Yokokawa. "So we offered the chicken as a set with a bottle of
wine and it was very popular."