Unusual Food Ways to Ring in the New Year
By Jeffree Itrich
Each year the Plymouth Arts Center in Plymouth, Wisconsin presents a most unusual way to ring in the New Year. They drop a giant wedge of cheese at a New Year's Eve party called the Big Cheese Drop. New York’s ball drop ain’t got nothin’ on this town! Looks like a grand way to usher in 2017. Get this – free smores and pudgie pies (a sort-of grilled sandwich made in a pudgie iron over a campfire), free wedges of Sartori cheese (the sponsor) to the first 250 families, a complimentary cheese-tasting table and bluegrass music by several local bands including the Honey Goats. Yep, looks like a wheel of fun.
While a cheese drop may seem unusual, food traditions abound when it comes to celebrating the New Year. All of the following traditions share recurring themes that denote prosperity, moving forward, long life and other goodness that might be bestowed on a person in the coming year.
For example, in the Philippines wearing polka dots and eating round-shaped fruits is supposed to guarantee success in the coming year. Round items simulate coins and eating/wearing clothing with round shapes is supposed to promote wealth.
Now in Spain they devour grapes just as the clock strikes midnight, to ensure a prosperous year ahead. Here’s the kicker to that good luck: You have to stuff 12 grapes, all at one time, into your mouth. That could be tough depending on the size of the grapes.
In Greece, residents smash a pomegranate on the floor in front of the door. The objective is to break it open and reveal seeds symbolizing prosperity and good fortune. The more seeds, the more luck. Yeah, but that could be messy.
Do you think you can slurp soba noodles without breaking them? In Japan, long buckwheat noodles symbolize long life, and are considered a sign of luck, but only if you eat them without chewing or breaking them. Might be safest to try this with someone around who knows the Heimlich maneuver.
Down south on New Year’s Day they cook up Hoppin' John, a dish of black-eyed peas and rice. Southerners consider black-eyed peas to be promising because of their resemblance (shape) to coins.
In Switzerland they drop a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of cream on the floor to promote abundance.
In Belgium farmers wish their cows a happy new year so they will provide lots of fine milk in the coming year.
Cooked greens, including cabbage, collards, kale, and chard, are consumed at New Year's in different countries for the same reason — their green leaves look like folded money, symbolic of economic fortune. The Danish eat stewed kale sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, while Germans consume sauerkraut (cabbage).
In Italy families place pig’s feet and lentils on the dinner table. A traditional peasant dish, it signifies saving money, the lentils representing coins. This association with good luck goes back to Roman times. Lentils are also traditional New Year’s fare in Brazil for the same reason.
In Ireland they throw bread at the walls to rid the homes of evil spirits. Really? Who knew that bread was so powerful?
And finally, in Estonia, people eat seven times on New Year’s Day to ensure abundance in the new year.
Whatever you decide to eat to celebrate the new year, we wish you a year of good health, the love of family and friends, and of course, fine cheese.