Every country and culture has its own traditions about what to eat on New Year’s Day in order to bring them luck. We have gathered the top ten International food dishes that are considered both delicious and lucky!
1) Hoppin’ John. This traditional New Year’s dish of the American South consists of black eyed peas cooked with bacon and served over white rice. No self-respecting Southerner would dream of starting out the New Year without a heaping plate of this for breakfast. Just have the Beano ready . . .
2) Mango with sticky rice. In Thailand the New Year doesn’t actually begin until April, when the farmers traditionally begin flooding their rice fields to plant their first crop of the year. Mangoes ripen the same month, and there are vendors everywhere selling sliced mango with a lump of sticky rice on the side, all covered by sweet coconut syrup – the whole thing served on a fresh banana leaf. If you share the dish with your boyfriend/girlfriend it is guaranteed you’ll be married before the year is out.
3) Fried chicken feet. In southern China the New Year is feted with fireworks, rice wine, and fried chicken feet. The Chinese eat the whole foot, bone and cartilage and all, and will tell you it tastes delicious and is very good luck. Reports from foreigners who try it vary – some say it tastes like burnt toast but otherwise is harmless; others have had to go to the local ER to have their stomachs pumped due to the bone fragments. Apparently, it’s all a matter of mastication.
4) Ha’penny pudding. In Great Britain they make a sort of mincemeat pie without the crust, and hide a coin inside it. Everyone is served a portion of the pudding on New Year’s Day and whoever gets the piece with the coin will be blessed with good luck all year. In Scotland the thrifty people have replaced the coin with a small gherkin.
5) Raw calf liver with citrus chutney. Argentina is a meat-eating country, since they produce more beef and export more beef than any other country in the Western Hemisphere. So it makes sense they would celebrate New Year with plenty of good red meat. But exactly why you have to eat your liver raw is unclear – most Argentines say it is a native custom that the Spaniards kept on. The citrus chutney, made of grated lemons, oranges, grapefruit, and imported bergamot from Italy, mixed with fiery chili peppers, is said to discourage the flu bug; children are often given it as a cold medication when they come down with the sniffles.
6) Beery chicken. Take one whole chicken, drown it in a gallon of Foster’s overnight, and then stew it and serve with parsnips – that’s the way to woo Lady Luck in Australia. Australian sheep shearers, who pretty much live on a diet of mutton and Foster’s Ale all year long, have been known to go on strike if they don’t get their beery chicken on New Year’s Day.
7) Poutine. This Canadian staple is not exactly touted as a good luck charm on New Year’s Day. Instead, it is prepared for all those unfortunates who overindulged the night before and are now suffering from a hangover; it is purported to cure hangovers in a trice. Poutine is made of French fries covered with melted cheese curds and brown gravy. If you can stomach such a disgusting mess on New Year’s Day you probably deserve some good luck.
8) Palm grubs. Now this one is on shaky ground. Expats who live in Cambodia swear that the native population chop down dead palm trunks on New Year’s Day to extract the large, pasty white, beetle grubs that infest it, and eat them raw, with relish. This may be a holdover from the famine times Cambodia experienced during the 70’s and 80’s, but the Khmer natives we have spoken with disavow any such disgusting tradition. This is probably a case of expats pulling some travel writer’s leg.
9) Reindeer steak. Norwegians celebrate the New Year with a large, juicy steak provided by their northern neighbors, the Laplanders. It’s extremely expensive, and so only the well-off can afford to have it. Still, those Norwegians in humbler circumstances manage to get ahold of some ground up reindeer meat to make “kjottebolle”, or meatballs, for their New Year’s Day supper. Eaten with boiled potatoes and lingonberry relish.
10) Devil pasties. In South Africa housewives pride themselves on making the spiciest devil pasty in the neighborhood. A holdover from the days when Cornish miners worked the gold and diamond mines, the pasty is a fried pie with a filling inspired by spices brought over by Indian indentured servants during the 19th century. If it doesn’t coat your tongue with ash, goes the South African saying, you won’t be getting any good luck for the New Year.