Roast suckling pig is a traditional, lucky food in many countries. (Photo courtesy of Kham Tran of www.khamtran.com)
Throughout history, certain foods have been associated with New Year’s – foods said to bring good luck in the coming year. We may no longer be this superstitious, but such traditional New Year’s foods make a fun – and delicious – addition to parties and dinners. What “lucky” food will you eat come New Year’s?
In the United States, especially in the South, black eyed peas (and especially a dish called “Hoppin’ John”) is a New Year’s tradition. Supposedly, this tradition dates back to the Civil War, when the residents of Vicksburg, Mississippi were under siege; all the food – except black eyed peas – ran out. And so black eyes peas became a “lucky” food.
But it’s not just in the U.S. that legumes are considered New Year’s luck. In Germany, legumes and pork (often in the form of split pea soup) are preferred. In Brazil, lentil soup is the favored New Year’s dish. And in Italy, sausages and green lentils are chosen.
Hoppin’ John Recipe
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ham hock
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. black eyed peas, soaked overnight and drained
1 qt. chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups cooked white rice
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
1. Pour the oil into a large soup pot and place over medium high. Once warm, add the ham hock. Cook until browned on all four sides. Add the onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic. Stir and cook until the onion and pepper are tender. Add the black eyed peas, stock, bay leaf, and thyme. Season with salt, pepper, and a dash or two of Cayenne.
2. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer until the peas are tender and creamy, about 40 minutes, stirring once in a while. If needed, add more stock or water to the pot so the mixture doesn’t go dry.
4. Serve over rice, sprinkled with green onions.
Other Lucky Bean Recipes for New Year’s:
Pea and Boston Bean Soup Recipe
Crock Pot White Bean and Squash Soup
Classic Lentil Soup
The idea here is that pigs push forward the earth, rooting around for food – so pigs represent good progress. In countries such as Austria, Spain, Cuba, and Hungary, roast suckling pig is a traditional New Year’s meal. In Germany, roast pork and pork and bean soups are eaten. Other countries that traditionally eat pork for New Year’s luck include Italy and the United States.
Lucky Pork Recipes for New Year’s:
Blackberry Pork Tenderloin
Crock Pot Roast Pork and Potatoes
Peas and Bacon Recipe
Potato Bacon Soup
Greens such as kale, collards, dandelion leaves, cabbage, and chard are said to look like money when cooked – therefore, they are said to encourage wealth when eaten on New Year’s. In Germany, sauerkraut is favored. In the U.S. (especially in the south), collard greens are popular. And in Denmark, kale is eaten, with cinnamon and sugar on top.
Lucky Greens Recipes for New Year’s:
Austrian Cabbage Soup
Beef and Pork Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Beet Greens with Garlic (this recipe works well for any type of greens)
Collard Greens Omelet
Gourmet recipes at your finger tips...