Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lucky Foods For The New Year

New Years is a time to ring out the old and ring in the new. It's a time to forget the past and make a clean start. It's a time for resolutions! Instead of depending on fate to increase your good fortune why not enjoy a meal to give you some good luck!
There are a variety of different foods you can eat on NYE & New Years Day to improve the odds that next year will be a good one. Of course this varies from culture to culture.
Here are the six major categories of auspicious foods.
GrapesNew Years revelers in Spain consume 12 grapes at midnight - one grape for each stroke of the clock. This dates back to 1909. Each grape represents each month, so for instance if the 3rd grape is a bit sour then March might be a rocky month. For most the goal is to swallow all the grapes at the last stroke of midnight, but Peruvians insist on 13 grapes. 1 for good measure.
Cooked Greens
Cabbage, collards, kale, and chard are consumed at New Year in different countries. Their greens look like folded money and are symbolic of economic fortune. The Danish eat stewed kale sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, the Germans eat sauerkraut (cabbage), while in the Southern US, collard greens are the greens of choice. It's believed the more greens one eats the larger one's fortune next year.
Legumes, including beans, peas and lentils are also symbolic of money. Their small, seed like appearance resembles coins that swell when cooked so they are consumed with financial rewards in mind. In Italy, it's customary to eat sausages and green lentils, just after midnight - pork has its own lucky associations! Germans also eat pork and legumes, usually lentil or split pea soup with sausage.
In Brazil, the first meal of the New Year is usually lentil soup. In the US its traditional to eat black-eyed peas or cow peas in a dish called hoppin john. This all traces back to the legend that during the Civil War, the town of Vicksburg, Mississippi, ran out of food while under attack. The residents fortunately discovered black-eyed peas and the legume was thereafter considered lucky.
Pass the bean's please.
Pigs symbolize progress. The animal pushes forward, rooting itself in the ground before moving. Roast pig is served for New Year's in Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, and Austria - Austrians are also known to decorate the table with miniature pigs made of marzipan. Pork is also consumed in Italy and the US, where thanks to its rich fat content, it signifies wealth and prosperity.
FishCod has been a popular feast food since the Middle Ages. Long before refrigeration and modern transportation, cod could be preserved and transported allowing it to reach the Mediterranean and even as far as North Africa and the Caribbean. The Danish eat boiled cod and Italy eats baccala, or dried salt cod. Herring is consumed at midnight in Poland and Germany. Germans also enjoy carp and have been known to place a few fish scales in their wallets for good luck. In Japan, herring roe is consumed for fertility, shrimp for long life, and dried sardines for good harvest.
Cakes and baked goods are always served from Christmas to New Year's around the world, with a special emphasis placed on round items. Italy has chiacchiere, which are honey drenched balls of pasta dough fried and dusted with powdered sugar. Mexico's rosca de reyes is a ring-shaped cake decorated with candied fruit and baked with one or more surprises inside. In Greece, a special round cake called vasilopita is baked with a coin hidden inside.
Cakes aren't always round. In Scotland, there is a tradition called "first footing" in which the first person to enter into a home after the new year determines what kind of year the residents will have. The "first footer" often brings symbolic gifts like coal to keep the house warm or baked goods such as shortbread, oats cakes, and a fruit cake called black bun, to make sure the household always has food.
Just like there are lucky foods for the New Year there are also some unlucky foods to avoid.
Lobster - they move backwards therefore can lead to setbacks
Chicken - the bird scratches backwards, which could cause regret of dwelling on the past. Another theory warns against eating any winged fowl because good luck could fly away.
In Germany, it's customary to leave a little bit of each food on your plate past midnight to guarantee a stocked pantry in the New Year. Same with the Philippines.

So I hope this New Year Eve your grapes are very sweet, your greens are full and bring you good fortune, your black-eyed peas bring you lots of luck, your pork chop keeps you moving forward, your shrimps are large and succulent for a long life, and your "first footer" brings you lots of yummy cakes so your pantries will be full all year in 2011!
Whether you are superstitious or not just enjoy your New Year's celebration what ever it may be. Eat what you want, as much of it you want, and when you want. After all, I will see you at the gym New Years day. Or really January 2, 2011 once the hangover wears off.
Have a Happy New Year and thank you for the support in 2010. 2011 is looking very promising & tasty.

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