Americans who celebrate on New Year's Eve with a bottle of champagne, party hats and a kiss at midnight have an important lesson to learn from the rest of the world (and certain regions of this country): The arrival of the new year is meant for feasting.
As the new year arrives around the globe, special cakes and breads abound, as do long noodles (representing long life), field peas (representing coins), herring (representing abundance) and pigs (representing good luck). The particulars vary, but the general theme is the same: to sit down and share a meal with family and friends to usher in a year of prosperity.
Here are some of the common traditions around the world and a few hints about where to partake in them:
While you're frying up some eggs and bacon, we're cooking up something else: a way to celebrate today's food holiday.
Everything’s better with bubbles! December 31 is National Champagne Day.
It’s no coincidence that National Champagne Day falls on New Years Eve; the two are probably one of life’s more obvious pairings. In France (and New Orleans), the new year is ushered in with a lavish Réveillon feast where extravagant dishes like lobster, foie gras and escargot are served.
Because Champagne has long since been associated with celebrations, it’s no surprise it was, and still is, the drink of choice for the festivities. Since then, the tradition of toasting the year to come with Champagne can be found worldwide. But, not all countries can rightfully claim to be serving or producing Champagne.
Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
Though there are plenty of drinks that have had New Year’s connotations over the years—mead, beer, mulled wine, you name it—the bubbly stuff, i.e. Champagne or sparkling wine, is really the spot-on gift if you happen to be headed out to a party or three.
The thing is, wine with bubbles ranges wildly in price; a bottle of 1998 Krug Clos d’Ambonnay will set you back about $2,000, whereas a bottle of André Cold Duck (no vintage on that one, strangely enough) will damage your finances to the tune of $4.50 or so. So, to make life easier, especially in this last-minute-what-do-I-do moment, here are some suggestions.
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Whether it's kicking your soda habit or resolving to open that bottle of wine you've been saving just because, the beginning of a new year means reflecting on what we'd like to change. Seeing that we're a food-based Web site, any impending alterations tend to be of the edible variety.
Gene Baur is the co-founder and president of Farm Sanctuary, a farm animal protection organization with a mission "to end cruelty to farm animals and promote compassionate living," and he has his own notion of a food resolution - and hopes you'll chew it over during the upcoming year.
Five Ways to Eat More Compassionately in the New Year: Gene Baur