6 New Year’s Recipes to Bring Good Luck and Good Fortune
If you’re looking for something to fix for your first meal of the new year, then why not whip up a little good luck to go along with dinner? For most of us, the first thing to come to mind when we think of ringing in the new year is a sparkling glass of bubbly, but long before Champagne became a New Year’s staple, cultures from around the world have looked to food as a way to ensure an auspicious beginning to the next twelve months. It’s no surprise, really: cooking can seem almost magical, the way ordinary ingredients are transformed in a wonderful and almost strange way. The heavenly scent of a slow-cooked lentil soup, for example, can seem like a sweet prayer for good fortune.
That’s no accident, as many traditional New Year’s dishes appear to have become popular for their resemblance to money or gold. Served in abundant portions, their presence on the New Year’s table represented a plea for prosperity. So tap into tradition with one of these good-luck dishes. Worst-case scenario? You start your new year with a happy tummy.
Some say that pork became popular at New Year’s because pigs move forward when they root around, and this forward motion represented an embrace of the year to come. Others point to the fact that bagging a plump wild boar for New Year’s dinner was considered good luck in old Europe. Either way, this pork tenderloin with mashed sweet potatoes makes for hearty but elegant beginning to the new year.
The custom of eating black-eyed peas for prosperity may date back more than 1,000 years, but it became an enduring tradition in the American South around the time of the Civil War. Why? It seems once upon a time, the beans themselves resembled coins; the addition of cooked greens (said to resemble folded money) came later. This black-eyed peas with pork and greens is a twist on the traditional Southern dish of Hoppin’ John, happily combining one tradition (black-eyed peas) with another (pork; see above).
From Germany to Brazil, lentils are a good-luck charm on the New Year’s table. As with black-eyed peas, the tradition seems to be rooted in the humble bean’s resemblance to coins. And because lentils were often inexpensive, it was easy to serve them in abundance. A warm and savory, slow-cooked ham and lentil soup is a perfect way to bring the lentil tradition to your New Year’s dinner.
By now, we’ve seen how a food’s resemblance to money makes it popular to ring in the New Year, so the fact that cornbread (with it’s distinctly golden luster) is also considered a lucky dish doesn’t come as a surprise. Happily, it makes for a great side to any of the dishes listed above, so you don’t have to sacrifice good taste for good luck!
All manner of fish are consumed around the world to herald the new year. The Swedes serve a bounty of different fish; the Germans and Poles prefer herring; and the Japanese eat shrimp for long life. But it’s cod that seems to have the most sway when it comes to being a good-luck talisman, from dried salt cod in Italy to boiled cod in Denmark. Though the Chinese prefer to serve their fish whole (head to tail) for good luck, we’ll take our chances with this delicious baked cod casserole.
Red, round and oh-so alluring, pomegranates have been considered a source of good fortune for generations, particularly in certain areas of the Middle East where they’ve been cultivated for centuries. Maybe it’s their seductive color (red is associated with longevity and fertility in some cultures) or their abundance of seeds (again, fertility); we just like their distinctive kick. Marry old and new(er) New Year’s traditions with some pomegranate Champagne punch.