Cuisine varies from culture to culture, and holiday gatherings are the best way to bring that to light.
With the holidays approaching, there are many things to look forward to; gifts, family, tradition, and, more importantly, food. The one dish I look forward to the most every Christmas is buñelos made by my maternal abuelita. Ecuadorian buñelos are freeform fried anise donuts dipped in an apple and pear sauce.
Since my abuelita has spent more of her Christmas's in Ecuador, I learned how to make them myself. The language barrier between her and me made it impossible to get a precise recipe. Even if we could communicate effectively, apparently, measurements were not a thing in old Ecuadorian farmlands. Whether through practice or by the will of her ancestors, abuelita knows how much of an ingredient to put in. I've watched her make buñelos three times to get an exact recipe, but the most I could muster is that she always starts with six eggs.
I learned how to make buñuelos from the best teacher of all, YouTube University. I managed to get the flavor and texture very similar to abuelita's, but the sauce was always off. I've asked family and friends to try their hand at making the sauce, and it's always off. I've even tried purchasing it to see if it's similar, but to no avail. Still, my family rejoices every Christmas when I show up with buñelos keeping up abuelita's tradition.
When I started switching off family holidays with George's family, I saw they have the same tradition. His parents make buñuelos every Christmas, and his entire family snacks on them until midnight, just in time to pass out presents. However, their buñuelos are savory. Colombian buñuelos are perfectly spherical balls of fried feta-infused dough. At his parents, buñuelos are passed around like candy; George loves them and can't remember a Christmas without them.
"They're bite size and delicious; I like to put hot sauce on them."
Despite both being Hispanic, we had a bit of culture shock at discovering the different types of buñuelos. It's especially shocking because Colombia and Ecuador were once one big country.
When I tried Colombian buñuelos, they were good, but I'm lactose intolerant and not a big fan of cheese, so it wasn't my favorite. When he tasted Ecuadorian buñuelos, he thought they tasted like nothing and didn't understand why they were so weirdly shaped.
Now, every year around Christmas time, the banter surrounding which buñuelos are better inevitably ensues.
"My buñuelos are better than yours."
George insists Colombian buñuelos are better, and I insist he hasn't tried true Ecuadorian buñuelos until he eats one made by my abuelita.
We have introduced our buñuelos to each of our families with mixed reviews. His family loves dipping the buñuelos in apple and pear sauce, and my family likes the unexpected cheesy flavor. However, all of us are so accustomed to our traditions that we each prefer our respective buñuelos.
In sharing our buñuelos, we have started a new tradition, the buñuelos vs. buñuelos war. We transformed our deep-rooted individual traditions into something we could share and adapt as our own. In the end, both types of buñuelos are delicious, but the never-ending debate makes for great laughs during the holidays. It gives yet another thing to look forward to.