New Year's Gastronomy
December 27, 2002 7:59 PM   Subscribe

Black-eyed peas before noontime is a good luck custom in the U.S. southern states, often served in Hoppin John. Spaniards favor twelve grapes at midnight, Greeks munch on a slice of vasilopita bread baked with a foil-wrapped coin, the Dutch breakfast on hot oliebollen, while the intrepid Japanese defy death by snacking down on mochi rice cakes. Every culture seems to have a traditional food or beverage to celebrate the New Year - do you have a gastronomical favorite to mark the occasion?
posted by madamjujujive (26 comments total)
Crab-meat salad sandwiches and pickled herring, yummm.
posted by DBAPaul at 8:04 PM on December 27, 2002

for me, it's that whatever i'm doing at the stroke of midnight sets the tone for the coming year-so i usually try to be either sleazy or with friends! ; >
posted by amberglow at 8:12 PM on December 27, 2002

swilling a poutine while staggering home from a new year's party seems to be the favourite in eastern Ontario. we're so refined up here.
posted by krunk at 8:31 PM on December 27, 2002

I know that as a member of the "old south", I should put on a pot of black eyed peas, but I don't much care for them, so I'm not.

My tradition is to make eggs benedict, roasted potatoes, mimosas and bloody mary's for anyone who's still at my house on New Years morning. :)
posted by dejah420 at 8:44 PM on December 27, 2002


posted by trondant at 8:59 PM on December 27, 2002

Takeaway Chinese food. Growing up I thought this was everyone's tradition; it wasn't until I was sent away that I learned the mother unit simply didn't want to cook that day.
posted by Wet Spot at 9:08 PM on December 27, 2002

Cold beer, cold prawns and beautiful juicy mangos. Cold of course.
posted by spinifex at 9:23 PM on December 27, 2002

Yup. In Oklahoma, our family does a black eyed pea tradition. (The other greens are not a part of it.) Just supposed to bring luck for the upcoming year.
posted by jmccorm at 9:36 PM on December 27, 2002

oops...noticed the mochi link is down (damn geoshitties site)'s an alternate site - an interesting thread of Japanese expatriates reminiscing about mochi (or omoshi) and talking about the reaction of non-Jpapanese friends....and another site with photos depicting the rather elaborate and strenuous process for making mochi.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:13 PM on December 27, 2002

Hoppin’ John is a tradition we brought with us from the South to San Francisco, and we’ve had fun introducing our friends to it. We find the best way to make it is to keep most of the extras on the side – stewed tomatoes, grated cheddar cheese, diced red onion and Crystal hot sauce – which lets everybody prepare it the way they want. We also put a penny in the bean pot; whoever gets it in their dish gets a wish that will be granted in the New Year to go along with all their good luck.

“Eat poor this day; eat rich the rest of the year” is the thought behind this dish, and some southerners serve it with turnip greens, collard greens or cabbage and cornbread (the peas for coins, the greens for folding money and the cornbread for gold). The dish was reportedly sold in the streets of Charleston, SC back in the late 1700’s by a one-legged black man known as “Hoppin’ John”, although there are other competing theories.

If you’re looking for an easy and delicious way to try this out, The Honorable Mitch McConnell, United States Senator, Kentucky has provided one online, and it allows for the use of frozen black-eyed peas, and bacon instead of ham.

Of course, “the South” is not all the same… if you’re from Louisiana, or parts of Mississippi, you’ll be wanting red beans and rice instead of black-eyed peas on New Years. Just be sure and put a piece of silver in your left shoe and keep it there on New Years Day.
posted by JParker at 10:17 PM on December 27, 2002

The trick with the omochi is that it must be eaten immediately after cooking. It hardens very quickly.
posted by scottymac at 10:43 PM on December 27, 2002

Those of us with German ancestry living in a mid-sized midwestern city settled by Krauts (my great granny was ripe off the boat from the land where Deutsche is spoken), were force fed sauerkraut for good luck on New Year's Day. Yup, sauerkraut simmered all day with apples, onions and pork roast. To this day I loathe kraut and pork roast, but I will "do" a forkful of kraut for good luck. Seems to work most years.
posted by VelvetHellvis at 10:57 PM on December 27, 2002

So funny you should mention this... I woke up this morning with a craving for black-eyed peas and greens; I was raised in the south, but I forgot the New Year's connection.

If I can gather enough energy, I usually make Gumbo on New Year's eve day. To me it's the perfect dish for the celebration: you have to make a huge pot (because why waste all that effort on a small pot that will disappear in one or two strikes?) so there's enough for anybody who happens to wander in; it's ready to eat whenever you get hungry; it's better the second day, and means no getting up to cook on New Year's morning. And what could be luckier than Gumbo? Sublime voodoo magic, every time!

And by the way, I got the Vasilopita coin last New Year's...
posted by taz at 11:22 PM on December 27, 2002

Lint/Cheerios party mix from the pocket of my most predatory black duster.
posted by Opus Dark at 1:15 AM on December 28, 2002

My grandmother always said that every black eyed pea you eat on New Year's day led to one day of good luck in the new year.
posted by trox at 6:51 AM on December 28, 2002

Alcohol. And Lots Of It.
posted by jonmc at 7:01 AM on December 28, 2002

The best thing about black-eyed peas for New Years? They're good. The trick is lots of pork fat - bacon, salt pork, whatever. My family's Texas version also adds jalepenos. Also a good excuse to eat greens and cornbread. Makes my San Francisco friends think I'm weird, but !bah! on them. Californians have no food traditions anyway. (No, sprouts are not a tradition.)
posted by Nelson at 9:28 AM on December 28, 2002

Coal. But you don't eat it... just throw it outside...

Maybe I'm just not very original.
posted by shepd at 10:58 AM on December 28, 2002

The traditional Scottish delicacy is Black Bun. This should be consumed with large quantities of whisky whilst First Footing after the bells at Hogmanay.
posted by Flitcraft at 11:13 AM on December 28, 2002

There's also a bit of a tradition in Scotland (at least, in the part where I was brought up) for having a huge meal on New Years Day where Steak Pie is served - whether this is to soak up some of the alcohol from all of the first-footing I don't know, but it certainly hits the spot (and then pins you to it, because after that sort of meal, you're not going anyplace for a good couple of hours!)
posted by pixeldiva at 2:13 PM on December 28, 2002

Mom makes corned beef and cabbage, and admittedly American dish, but only because the boiled ham her Irish ma used to prepare makes us all ill.
Then we have to each have a glass of egg nog, which makes me ill as well, but I do it, and then off to a house party. In my part of the Northeast, the community of people of Irish descent *never* go out to bars and drink on New Year's Eve. It is always off to a house party, or host one of your own. If you have to go out, it means you have no where to go, so a lot of strangers dragged along with distant, tangental family memebers show up. And some tipsy, older uncle is always passing out money.
posted by oflinkey at 2:24 PM on December 28, 2002

since new year's is also my birthday (whee!) we always had my special birthday dinner: chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes with gravy, fried okra and, of course, blackeyed peas with bacon.


hey, i'm a southern girl.
posted by sugarfish at 3:59 PM on December 28, 2002

For us, it's cabbage. The legend goes such as if you eat cabbage before midnight, you will be prosperous the next year. So, we swing by the good Chinese place in town for eggrolls...
posted by Samizdata at 6:45 PM on December 28, 2002

I was just grocery shopping for our New Year's traditional meal of Korean rice cake soup. This will be my first year making it by myself, but nothing beats this piping hot soup on a chilly morning. Can't forget the kimchi, too!
posted by shinyj at 8:04 PM on December 28, 2002

Sure makes one feel like swapping traditions, this thread. Thanks madamjujujive for the post - they're like menus, inviting new experiences.

In Portugal the New Year is a Big Thing and the only traditions, apart from going out and staying up late, spending a lot of money, drinking Champagne and eating as much as you can all through the night, is a caldo verde (delicious Portuguese cabbage soup, something like Swiss kale) at 2 in the morning and eating twelve raisins at midmight, one for each last second of the year, standing on a chair or a table and then stepping off with your right foot to "enter" well the New Year.

Boas entradas, madamjuju and all! Meaning, literally: good entries! :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:20 PM on December 28, 2002

It's great to hear the variety of food plans - we are a diverse crew at Mefi. Thanks in particular to JParker, trondant, VelvetHellvis and Flitcraft for sharing links - but Flitcraft, I am suspicious of that Black Bun - you Scots are intrepid in your dining! But the whiskey sounds good, and the Burning of the Clavie sounds like a rather intriguing and pagan thing to do.

If I were cooking - a rare and rather frightening experience - it would probably be corned beef and cabbage, like oflinkey. True to my Irish heritage, I am good at recipes when you throw everything in a pot and boil the hell out of it. Fortunately, my friend Sue in Maine is a fabulous cook - she'll have a small gathering of friends for dinner, cooking some superlative concoction involving shrimp or lobster, maybe sourced from here or here, all washed down with copious amounts of wine, music and and conversation. Then it's a tradition to start the New Year with a walk at the ocean next day, either at Goose Rocks Beach or Two Lights State Park - much needed exercise after all the holiday feasting.

Here's a few purported hangover cures for any who overindulge - though most sound pretty appalling.

Boas entradas to you too Miguel, and to all my fellow Mefi-ites!
posted by madamjujujive at 9:29 PM on December 28, 2002

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