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It’s almost that time of year where everyone begins to start anew. 2011 is just around the corner and with the fresh beginning come the yearly traditions. Getting off on a good foot can mean something different to just about every culture, creed and religion. However, it seems that most of these rituals are food driven, whether it means making a resolution to go on a diet (i.e. not eat so much or eat healthier) or to eat more donuts to round things out a little more. Below is just a sampling of the epicurean customs you might want to try if you’re looking to ring in the New Year with lady luck on your side.
Black eyed peas/Beans/Lentils/Risotto – Each of these is used for the same reason in from different areas of the world (depending on what item was abundant where) and is directly related to the idea of money. In terms of the black eyed peas and beans, their shape tends to look like that of a coin and often a coin of some sort was hidden in the serving dish with them, whoever received this would supposedly also be lucky/rich for the year. For the lentils and risotto, it was more the idea that since they are so small and puff somewhat when cooked that they represent the abundance the eater could look forward to in the year to come.
Pork – This is one of the widest seen traditions, spanning from Germany and Sweden to Cuba and the United States. Pork in several forms and variations, such as ribs, ham, roast and pigs feet, is common place on many New Year’s menus. In Austria, it’s even common to see pink swine made of marzipan decorating the table. Why such a seemingly dirty animal to bring luck? Because when a pig eats, it tends to plant its feet, push forward and root itself. This represents forward progress and prosperity in the year to come. The fatty meat of the pig also signifies an abundance to come.
Green Leafy Vegetables – Another common tradition, often flavored by the previously mentioned pork, tends to be an obvious choice. Hailing from the customs of the Northern European and Southern United States, this selection also hails money to come in the approaching year because it (of course) looks like folded bills.
Noodles – From China comes the tradition of eating noodles, but for New Year’s there’s a bit of a trick involved to it. A long noodle is said to represent a long life. However, you must not break it before the entire noodle is in your mouth.
Grapes – Spain and other Latin countries are known for eating grapes at midnight. For each stroke of the clock, they eat one grape. Each grape eaten symbolizes a month of happiness in the year to come. According to Delish.com, this yearly ritual was said to have started in Spain in 1909 when the Alicante region had a surplus of the sweet fruit.
Pomegranate – Popular in the Mediterranean, many eat the seeds of the pomegranate at the coming of a new year to promote fertility and abundance. The wealth of the seeds is thought to be related to the wealth of fertility in a person/couple.
Round Pastry – As mentioned above, some cultures even take to eating round pastries such as cakes and donuts. This tradition is built more on the shape or what’s inside rather than the actual item. The circular shape of the item denotes the year coming full circle. Like the bean items, it’s also common to bake a coin in the pastry. Again, the person finding the coin will prosper in the year to come.
With this wealth of food tradition and superstition, why not try out a menu built around the idea this year? Below is a suggestion of what to try out, with links to their recipes.