Sunday, December 30, 2012

10 Global New Year's Eats.

The arrival of the New year is meant for feasting.  To sit down and share a meal with family and friends to usher in a year of prosperity. Here are some of the common food traditions around the world and a few hints about where to partake in them:

Hoppin' John, American South
A major New Year's food tradition in the American South, Hoppin' John is a dish of pork-flavored field peas or black-eyed peas (symbolizing coins) and rice, frequently served with collards or other cooked greens (as they're the color of money) and cornbread (the color of gold). The dish is said to bring good luck in the new year.

Twelve grapes, Spain
While Americans watch the ball drop in Times Square on New Year's Eve, Spaniards watch the broadcast from Puerta del Sol in Madrid, where revelers gather in front of the square's clock tower to ring in the New Year. Those out in the square and those watching at home partake in an unusual annual tradition: at the stroke of midnight they eat one grape for every toll of the clock bell. Some even prep their grapes -- peeling and seeding them -- to make sure they will be as efficient as possible when midnight comes.

Tamales, Mexico
Tamales, corn dough stuffed with meat, cheese and other delicious additions and wrapped in a banana leaf or a corn husk, make appearances at pretty much every special occasion in Mexico. But the holiday season is an especially favored time for the food. In many families, groups of women gather together to make hundreds of the little packets -- with each person in charge of one aspect of the cooking process -- to hand out to friends, family and neighbors. On New Year's, it's often served with menudo, a tripe and hominy soup that is famously good for hangovers.

Oliebollen, Netherlands
In the Netherlands, fried oil balls, or oliebollen, are sold by street carts and are traditionally consumed on New Year's Eve and at special celebratory fairs. They are doughnut-like dumplings, made by dropping a scoop of dough spiked with currants or raisins into a deep fryer and then dusted with powdered sugar.

Marzipanschwein or Glücksschwein, Austria and Germany
Austria, and its neighbor to the north, Germany, call New Year's Eve Sylvesterabend, or the eve of Saint Sylvester. Austrian revelers drink a red wine punch with cinnamon and spices, eat suckling pig for dinner and decorate the table with little pigs made of marzipan, called marzipanschwein. Good luck pigs, or Glücksschwein, which are made of all sorts of things, are also common gifts throughout both Austria and Germany.

Soba noodles, Japan
In Japanese households, families eat buckwheat soba noodles, or toshikoshi soba, at midnight on New Year's Eve to bid farewell to the year gone by and welcome the year to come. The tradition dates back to the 17th century, and the long noodles symbolize longevity and prosperity. In another custom called mochitsuki, friends and family spend the day before New Year's pounding mochi rice cakes. Sweet, glutinous rice is washed, soaked, steamed and pounded into a smooth mass. Then guests take turns pinching off pieces to make into small buns that are later eaten for dessert.

King cake, around the globe
The tradition of a New Year's cake is one that spans countless cultures. The Greeks have the Vasilopita, the French the gateau or galette des rois. Mexicans have the Rosca de Reyes and Bulgarians enjoy the banitsa.

Cotechino con lenticchie, Italy
Italians celebrate New Year's Eve with La Festa di San Silvestro, often commencing with a traditional cotechino con lenticchie, a sausage and lentil stew that is said to bring good luck (the lentils represent money and good fortune) and, in certain households, zampone, a stuffed pig's trotter.

Pickled herring, Poland and Scandinavia
Because herring 
is in abundance in Poland and parts of Scandinavia, and because of their silver coloring, many in those nations eat pickled herring at the stroke of midnight to bring a year of prosperity and bounty. Some eat pickled herring in cream sauce, some have it with onions.

Kransekage, Denmark and Norway
Kransekage, literally wreath cake, is a cake tower composed of many concentric rings of cake layered atop one another, and they are made for New Year's Eve and other special occasions in Denmark and Norway. The cake is made using marzipan, often with a bottle of wine or Aquavit in the center and can be decorated with ornaments, flags and crackers.


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