Sunday, December 26, 2010

Food for Luck

At this time of year our thoughts are often occupied by images of food, plans of what to eat now and diets to follow later.  We remember food that is special for our families that are part of the holiday celebrations.   We may bring out the old recipes for pink or green Jell-O, potatoes with marshmallows, prime rib and Yorkshire pudding, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, tamales or tacos.  The possibilities are unlimited.  But people don’t select their dishes simply because it reminds them of childhood, grandma’s house or great aunt Sarah.  Some foods become part of the menu, especially to welcome a New Year,  because they are thought to bring good luck. 

An article on the food site Epicurious, tell us that around the world there are a variety of “lucky” foods, ones that can give us an idea of the year ahead or bring good fortune when consumed.  (  According to their research, if you’re in Spain you may want to eat 12 grapes just before midnight to welcome the year.  In Mexico and Peru people believe the twelve grapes indicate the months of the year to come. Sweet ones suggest a sweet month ahead, tart, maybe some problems that month.

It’s not only grapes that are important. The Danes eat stewed kale while lentils appear on New Year menus and special dishes in Italy, Germany and Brazil.  Why? Tradition says that greens represent folded money (kale, cabbage, collard greens) and legume (peas, lentils) coins.  Consuming them hopefully helps bring good fortune in the year to come.

Around the world people serve sweets for the holidays.   Cookies and cakes, covered in honey and powdered sugar appear in varied shapes and sizes.  In some countries like Mexico a trinket or coin goes inside a cake.  If you find it you’ll be lucky in the new year. 

No matter what food adds to your celebration you may want to follow one of the German traditions.  They lave a little food on the plate past midnight to insure a well-stocked pantry in the new year!

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