Just because you can never have too much luck, good fortune and prosperity…. here are some tasty New Year’s food traditions from around the world that will set the stage for a great year ahead.
Lentils — The star of any New Year’s table in Italy is lentils because they look a bit like coins and symbolize wealth and good fortune in the coming year. I love this simple, hearty recipe for stewed sausages and lentils from one of my favorite websites/podcasts about Italian cooking, La Tavola Marche.
12 Grapes — Since the early 1900s it’s been a tradition in Spain and Portugal (Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico and Ecuador) to eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s eve. Each grape represents a month in the coming year (grape 1 being January, grape 2 being February and so on). Pay attention while you eat since people say that an especially sweet or sour grape might predict your fortunes for particular months of the upcoming year. In Peru, many eat a 13th grape for good luck.
Cooked Greens — I guess there’s a resemblance between cooked leafy greens and folded money, which is why in many places eating lots of cooked greens on New Year’s day sets the tone for a prosperous year. Greens are a big tradition in the Southern US of course, but its also lucky to eat them across Europe from Denmark to Germany. Here’s Chef Bill Smith’s great run down on making southern greens over at the Splendid Table.
Marizipan Cake — While the traditional, fancy multilevel cake tower called Kransekage might be a stretch for most of us home cooks to pull off, heres’s a great little recipe for an easy variation on the classic Danish and Norweigian new year’s cake…. small, round petit four-style iced cake-lets made with marzipan by Kalle Bergman…. and here’s a another simplified recipe for Kransekage that can be piped into small logs, then glazed, from the blog My Danish Kitchen. In some countries it’s also a New Year’s tradition to bake a small coin inside a cake (like they do in New Orleans for Mardi Gras king cakes), and the lucky person who gets the piece with the coin will be extra lucky in the year to come.
But Don’t Eat it All! In Germany, some people make sure to leave a little food un eaten on their plate on New Year’s eve to hedge their bets for a well stocked pantry for the coming year.