Across the globe, people prepare special dishes to be eaten for good luck in the New Year. And the wonderful thing about that is that for adventurous cooks, we can craft a pretty wonderful New Year’s Day buffet that samples those dishes. It’s an around-the-world trip to start the year without leaving the comfort of the kitchen.
There is a rich history of how this African legume became the harbinger of good fortune in the American south. Like so many American dishes, black-eyed peas influenced southern food culture from their American start in the creative kitchens of enslaved people’s cabins. The dish has as many variations as there are families, but the core is often the same: black-eyed peas, some onion, some garlic, a little smoked pork, and spices. We’re fond of a little heat in ours: maybe some cayenne pepper or our Louisiana Creole Blend.
Greens from the Top of the World
Nothing accompanies black-eyed peas nicer than the leafy tops of collards, mustard, or turnips: they have long been a symbol of prosperity in American cuisine where they often share a seasoning profile with black-eyes peas. With greens, the longer you cook them, the silkier they get. Don’t forget some cornbread to soak up the potliquor. Throw in some crushed red chiles for some heat or maybe some lemon zest to add a bright top note.
But greens are not solely a dish of the American south. We like this recipe with its taste of Nepal.
Moving Forward with Pork
Legend has it that pork makes its way to the New Year’s table because pigs put their nose to the ground and always root forward. Through the years, that behavior has seemed like a model approach to the new year: forward, always forward.
Our recipe is for Pork Satay marinated in a sweet and savory mix of Chinese Five Spices, honey, lemon juice, garlic, and Indonesian soy sauce.
Lentils for the New Year
The coin-shaped legume is a traditional part of the Italian New Year’s celebration. Our Italian Herb Blend is a perfect complement with its oregano, thyme, basil, marjoram and rosemary — the essential Italian flavors for dishes both ancient and new. Try a squeeze of lemon juice, too.
Lentils, of course, are enjoyed the world over, including South Asia. The whole spices in this dahl — mustard seed and cumin seed — are awakened in hot oil, providing a delightful auditory experience to start the year: think of it as The Spice House fireworks.
The Flavors of January First
When you survey New Year’s Day recipes from around the world, you’re struck by both the variety and the common threads. Whether its Pickled Herring from Scandinavia with its allspice, mustard seeds, and caraway; to vinegary sauerkraut and pickles in Russia; to soba noodles in Japan; to the spicy kimchi of Korea, redolent with its deep red chiles — the dishes on New Year’s Day are born of necessity in cold winter months, at least in the Northern hemisphere and they look for prosperity and good fortune in the year ahead.
That’s our wish, too, for you and your loved ones.
Article by Seán Collins, Staff Writer