Fruit: On New Year’s Eve, Mexicans pop a grape for each stroke of midnight, with each representing a page of the calendar ahead. If one is bitter, watch out for that month! Other popular fruits to eat include the pomegranates, with its many seeds standing in for prosperity, and figs, which are a symbol of fertility.
Green: Supposedly greens are eaten on New Year’s Eve because they resemble money!
Bean and lentils: Beans, like greens, resemble money; more specifically, they symbolize coins. Whether you choose black beans, lentils, or black-eyes peas, healthy fiber-filled beans will help soak up that champagne.
Noodle and grain: Noodles are symbols of long life, and grains like rice, quinoa, and barley stand for abundance. Slurp the noodles whole for even more luck!
Pork: Pigs are a lucky symbol because they root forward, and are rotund. Traditionally, in the American South, pork, beans, and greens are combined in a dish called Hoppin’ John for New Year’s Eve. Here is Emeril Lagasse’s excellent Hoppin John recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large ham hock
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup celery, chopped
- 1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1 pound black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
- 1 quart chicken stock
- Bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
- Salt, black pepper, and cayenne
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
- 3 cups steamed white rice
Heat oil in a large soup pot, add the ham hock and sear on all sides for 4 minutes. Add the onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic, cook for 4 minutes. Add the black-eyed peas, stock, bay leaves, thyme, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the peas are creamy and tender, stir occasionally. If the liquid evaporates, add more water or stock. Adjust seasonings, and garnish with green onions. Serve over rice.
Happy 2015 to everybody!