In And Around Hannibal: January 5, 2013

Rita Hooper

706-3564

Twohoops2@juno.com

Hope you’ve had your fish, pork, sauerkraut, beans, grapes and a special cake sometime during your New Year’s celebration.

Those foods are sure to insure a good year for you in 2013. It seems that these are almost universal foods worldwide to bring in the New Year.

In Spain, the custom is to eat 12 grapes at midnight — one grape for each stroke of the clock. This custom began in the early 1900s when there was an excess of grapes.

Since then, the custom has spread to Portugal as well as former Spanish and Portuguese colonies Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Ecuador, and Peru.

Each grape represents a different month, so if say the third grape is a little sour, it might tie in with the Ides of March, the day Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC. Likewise if the fourth grape is bitter, it might just happen to coincide with tax day!

Cooked greens, including cabbage, collards, kale, and chard, are consumed at New Year’s in different countries for a simple reason — their green leaves look like folded money, and are thus symbolic of economic fortune.

The Danish eat stewed kale sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, the Germans consume sauerkraut (cabbage) while in the southern United States, collards are the green of choice. It’s widely believed that the more greens one eats the larger one’s fortune next year.

Legumes including beans, peas, and lentils are also symbolic of money. Their small, round like appearance resembles coins that swell when cooked so they are consumed with financial rewards in mind. Germans also partner legumes and pork, usually lentil or split pea soup with sausage. In Brazil, the first meal of the New Year is usually lentil soup or lentils and rice, and in Japan, the osechi-ryori, a group of symbolic dishes eaten during the first three days of the new year, includes sweet black beans called kuro-mame.

In the Southern United States, it’s traditional to eat black-eyed peas in a dish called “hoppin’ john.”

Legend has it that during the Civil War, the town of Vicksburg, Miss., ran out of food while under attack. The residents fortunately discovered black-eyed peas and the legume was thereafter considered lucky.

The custom of eating pork on New Year’s is based on the idea that pigs symbolize progress. The animal pushes forward, rooting itself in the ground before moving.

Roast suckling pig is served for New Year’s in Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, and Austria.  Different pork dishes such as pig’s feet are enjoyed in Sweden while Germans feast on roast pork and sausages.

Pork is also consumed in Italy and the United States, where thanks to its rich fat content, it signifies wealth and prosperity.

Cod has been a popular feast food since the Middle Ages. Long before refrigeration and modern transportation, cod could be preserved by salting or drying so that it could reach further destinations.

The Catholic Church band on meat on religious holidays may also have played a part. The Danes eat boiled cod, while in Italy,  dried salt cod, is enjoyed from Christmas through New Year’s.  Herring, another frequently preserved fish, is consumed at midnight in Poland and Germany — Germans have been known to place a few fish scales in their wallets for good luck.

The Swedish New Year feast is usually a smorgasbord with a variety of fish dishes such as seafood salad. In Japan, herring roe is consumed for fertility, shrimp for long life, and dried sardines for a good harvest (sardines were once used to fertilize rice fields).

Cakes and other baked goods are commonly served from Christmas to New Year’s around the world, with a special emphasis placed on round or ring-shaped items. Italy eats honey-drenched balls of pasta dough fried and dusted with powdered sugar.

Poland, Hungary, and the Netherlands also eat donuts, and Holland has a puffy, donut-like pastry filled with apples, raisins, and currants.

In certain cultures, it’s customary to hide a special trinket or coin inside the cake—the recipient will be lucky in the new year.  Sweden and Norway have similar rituals in which they hide a whole almond in rice pudding—whoever gets the nut is guaranteed great fortune in the new year.

In Germany, it’s customary to leave a little bit of each food on your plate past midnight to guarantee a stocked pantry in the New Year.

However, you may not want to eat lobster or fowl as they move or scratch backwards which could lead to setback or dwelling on the past. Winged creatures just might cause your good luck to fly away too!

While I’m putting this column together, I’m crock-potting some lentils, black-eyed peas, sausage, ham hocks and spinach.  I’m looking for health and prosperity in the coming year and a little bit of luck and legend can’t hurt…Oh in case your wondering about the ham hocks, I did it on a whim.

The party I’m going to is also serving calamari and crab legs.  So if a squid’s tentacles can be considered legs, I figured ham hocks would fit right in.

I sure hope this whim never strikes me again. Not much meat on a ham hock! Wishing you all a wonderful New Year.

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The Menu for next week at the Senior Nutrition Program is as follows:

• Monday: Lasagna roll with meat sauce, veggie blend, tossed salad, ice cream;

• Wednesday: Pork chop with gravy, stuffing, peas and carrots, orange juice, yogurt; and

• Friday: Hamburger on roll, garlic red potatoes, vegetable, applesauce

I understand they are looking for some folks to join their Wii bowling team. Remember they meet at the Senior Center, next to the Library on Oswego St. Lunch is served at noon but they are open by 10 for coffee and news and games. Give Rosemary a call and make your reservation now at 564-5471.

Happy belated birthday wishes to Millie Stoutenger.  Millie and Red are faithful Meals on Wheels delivery people and send lots of cards out to Elderberries where Millie is the Sunshine Lady.

Remember the Jammers are taking the winter off. Please keep your ears and eyes posted as I will be sure to let you know when the Jammers resume.

The osteoporosis exercise class Bone Builders meets at the American Legion on Rochester Street Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:45 a.m. You might like to sit in on a class or two and see what it’s all about. By the way, osteoporosis is not a women’s condition, men can have it, too!

The Elderberries will be meeting the second and fourth Tuesdays at noon during the winter. They meet for a covered dish luncheon at the Senior Center. Please bring your own table service and a dish to pass. Looks like that means I’ll be seeing some of my readers on Tuesday! Yes this is the second Tuesday! We’d love to see some new people join in the fun – come on down, up or over and pay us a visit!

The Hannibal Board of Education will meet Wednesday at 7:15 p.m.

Hannibal Superintendent Of Schools Donna Fountain has sent a letter to all parents and guardians of Hannibal students in regards to the changes in Hannibal schools in light of the Newtown tragedy. These changes largely involve access to the schools and increased police patrols. I suggest that all my readers read it on the Hannibal Central School web site at www.hannibalcsd.org.

Marge Woodworth, one of Hannibal’s sweet ladies, has passed away. Her memorial service will be Jan. 26 at God’s Vision Christian Church at 11 a.m. with a reception following at the Senior Center (library.)

This column is written about what’s happening in Hannibal, especially for the people of Hannibal and those who have a tie to our community. Please keep me posted on your organization so I can keep my readers informed.

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