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:
In Iceland, Christmas is observed the evening of December 24. The day before that, there is a pre-Christmas tradition that some daring folks observe: Eating rotten fish.
One day a year, folks get together and eat putrid skate, accompanied by bread, potatoes and little else.
Throughout the country, wives, husbands and even entire apartment buildings forbid the practice. Few restaurants cook it.
Linnie Rawlinson is the Special Projects Editor in CNN's London bureau.
As the temperature falls and the leaves start to crackle under foot, British minds turn towards comfort food – and there’s nothing more comforting than a traditional suet pudding.
Suet, as in, beef fat?
In a dessert?
Why yes, actually.
And do you know what? It’s really rather good.
Remember back in May of 2011 when we gave away all our stuff and road-tripped down to Florida in a Judgment Day caravan to warn people about the impending Rapture? How about 153 days after that when the world similarly failed to go kaplooey?
Shockingly enough, we used those opportunities to ask people how they'd chow down if they knew it was going to be their last meal on Earth. Seeing as we're up against Armageddon (again), according to the Mayan calendar (sort of), here's a little inspiration for a final feast.
Out of 378 responses, the most frequently mentioned foodstuffs were:
For most of us, sitting down to a multi-course dinner prepared by a famed chef is a special occasion. Very special.
But there are some parts of the world where premium food and wine are such essential parts of daily life that it’s not unusual to be treated to such an experience every day - without going broke in the process.
Take San Sebastián, on northern Spain’s Bay of Biscay coast, just 20 kilometers from France.
Known as Donostia in the Basque tongue, the city says it has more Michelin stars (a total of 16) per square meter than any other place in the world.
Read the full story on CNN Travel: "San Sebastian's amazing Michelin street dining"
For Tokyo locals as well as visitors, Tsukiji fish market has long defined the heart, soul and, most importantly, the stomach of this hectic metropolis.
But after 78 years in operation, the beloved Tsukiji fish market will close forever after 2013.
The Tokyo metropolitan government recently released its design for a new wholesale seafood market set to open in 2014.
According to the Asahi Shimbun, the new market will be located in a few kilometers from the Tsukiji market in a complex in the Koto Ward and spread out over 408,000 square meters of floor space.
Read the full story on CNN Travel: "Iconic Tokyo fish market to close, replacement design unveiled"
Ryan Goodman is a generational rancher from Arkansas with a degree in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University in Animal Science, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree at the University of Tennessee, studying beef cattle management. He is one of many farmers using social media to bridge the gap between farmers and urban customers. Follow his story daily at AgricultureProud.com or on Twitter and Facebook.
The term "local" is used frequently in conversations centered on the American food system. Is it 50 miles from your home or 500? Must the food be purchased directly from the farmer? Can the food be sourced by a retailer and sold under a "local" label for stronger buying power?
I have listened to several panel discussions on food topics over the past year and the topic of local food sources normally pops up. Some of these panel discussions have included suburban or urban mothers and restaurant owners. When asked what they considered local food and farmers, a common theme arises, and it bothers me: the urban ideal of what local farmers should look like.
Editor's Note: Mark Hill is Director of Photography for Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
Although I have been in love with photography since I was 12, my first serious relationship with the subject began as a wide-eyed intern in New York City. A well-regarded food photographer took me under his wing and taught me all aspects of the craft, starting with a respect for the food that nourishes us.
For me, the key to good food photography is that whatever you are shooting needs to looks fresh from the kitchen. Not all food is inherently beautiful - a rack of ribs, for example - but if it appears fresh and hot out of the smoker, it will look appetizing.
The plate needs to be composed in the kitchen as carefully as you frame your camera. Look at how the food is plated. Ask yourself if the most important element is highlighted. If not, rotate the plate to make it more prominent. Does the garnish enhance the plate or distract? If it distracts, reduce or eliminate it all together. Don’t be afraid to move things around.
Here are a few tips that will really make food images their best. They all apply if using the fanciest digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) or mobile phone camera.
Biting into a piece of fried potato dough drizzled with glaze can be a religious experience in Portland, Maine. A visit to a funky new dive called The Holy Donut has become a weekly, or sometimes daily, ritual for customers craving a fix of flavors ranging from sweet potato ginger to roasted pistachio.
“I’m trying to convince myself it’s not a sin to eat donuts,” says regular Nathan Hagelin as he takes the first bite of the shop's seasonal apple cider flavor.
“Everybody wants it. They think they can’t have it, but we tell them they can,” says owner Leigh Kellis. Traditionally the poster child of unhealthy treats, donuts here are made with all natural colors and flavors, local Maine ingredients and no preservatives.