Happy New Year, my friends! I’ve been away from home for the holidays, and not doing a lot of cooking, (eating–yes,yes!) so my posts have been a little leaner than usual. The subject of “foods that bring good luck” came up in a conversation, so I did a little research and found some interesting facts that I thought might be of interest to you, as they were to me. In planning meals over the next few days you might want to consider the following.
In many cultures certain foods are thought to bring good luck, especially those eaten on New Year’s Day. With today being the first day of the new year I though it might be fun to see what some of those foods are and possibly how to incorporate them into a celebration menu.
In Spain, revelers mark the New Year by quickly eating a dozen grapes at midnight. The fruits are thought to be a predictor of the year ahead: each sweet grape represents a good month, each sour grape a less-than-lucky one. You might adopt this tradition by threading grapes onto skewers and serve each one in a glass of Champagne just before the countdown.
In Italy, lentils are served because an abundance of the tiny legumes symbolizes wealth. Turn this tradition into a flavorful and hearty lentil soup, to ensure the best year possible.
Circular foods, those that are in the form of a ring, are thought to bring good luck. Possibly because they symbolize “coming full circle”. A big bag of doughnuts seems like a fine idea for making this one a reality.
In some Eastern European countries, a coin baked into a loaf of bread is said to bring luck to the person who finds it. A marble pound cake with a coin or two baked in it would make a fancy enough dessert if served with a dessert wine.
One of Japan’s beloved foods, soba, or buckwheat noodles, are customarily eaten at midnight on December 31, when they are called toshi-koshi (“from one year to another”) soba. The noodles symbolize longevity, so the longer they are, the better. Any Asian dish that incorporates soba noodles would make a perfect entree for this custom.
In the southern U.S. many folks eat greens on New Year’s Day. Collards and other greens are considered lucky because they look like greenbacks. Collards and black eyed peas are a common combination for the New Year. (Often served with ham.)
Going along with the above tradition is this one for eating pork. Ham, because of its fat is served to bring a New Year rich with happiness.
Cornbread is another southern dish that gets served along with the ham, collards and black eyed peas. Cornbread, because of its yellow color, represents the glories of gold.
If I were serving a meal to ring in the New Year (which I am not), my menu might look something like this:
Champagne Cocktail with grape skewer garnish
Sausage & Lentil Soup
Asian Noodle Salad
Orange Marmalade-Glazed Baked Ham
Collard Greens and Black-eyed Peas
Cornbread with Chive Butter
Chocolate Ganache-Glazed Marble Pound Cake
Cake Doughnuts with French Vanilla Ice Cream
Thankfully, I won’t be eating a meal like this one. If I did I would need a crane to lift me away from the table! I think in the end, you could overdo this “good luck” thing, but it was fun playing around with it.
However you will be spending the first day of 2014, I hope you have fun with family, friends and, of course, good food.