I’ve been giddy about this month’s Recipe ReDux theme since we announced it:
Good Luck Foods: What will you be serving to get the New Year started with a little luck? Be it black eyed peas and greens, Chinese noodles or even a special family recipe you serve on New Year’s Eve or Day. Please share your good luck dish to start off 2014 in a healthy way.
For just about every one of my forty plus years on this earth, New Year’s Day meant an open house party at my grandparents’ row home in South Philadelphia and going to see The Mummers* (for a Mummer tutorial, see bottom of post.)
My mom grew up in South Philly, which has a strong Italian-American presence (if you’ve seen the movie Rocky, you’ve seen South Philly.) It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realized my Nana wasn’t actually Italian at all like Pop Pop but her parents were from Russia and Austria-Hungary (now part of modern day Poland.)
Nana certainly cooked all the Italian-American classics and adopted the mannerisms, culture and even the Roman Catholic religion but certain dishes from her heritage remained a part of her cooking repertoire and family get-togethers: Piergori. Blintzes. Borscht. Kapusta.
Along with bean soup and rosemary pork roast, kapusta was always on the stove New Year’s Day. It’s a simple dish made with sauerkraut, fresh cabbage, onion and cooked with a bit of bacon. Some prepare it as a thin soup or some, like my Nana, braise it on the stove. The more it cooks, the mellower and creamier it gets.
Kapusta is fantastic with pork, oven roasted potatoes or just on its own. (You can make a vegetarian version using a little olive oil and smoked paprika instead of bacon.)
My Nana passed away a few years ago but we still do a small family gathering at the row house with bean soup, kapusta and a strut one block over to watch the Mummers march up Broad Street.
* SIDE BAR: What the heck is a Mummer? The Mummer Parade is a 100+ year tradition and an all-day New Year’s Day parade in Philly with a Carnival/Mardi Gras like feel. The highlight is the string bands that play banjos, basses, accordions and saxophones and perform choreographed routines in elaborate feathered costumes. If you are from South Philly, you probably learned to do the Mummer Strut to the song “Oh Dem Golden Slippers” before you learned to walk.
Case in point: My mom showing my daughter Mia at 18 months how to get her strut on in Nana’s kitchen on parade day:
A few pics of the Mummers at my wedding:
What do you prepare or eat for good luck in the new year? Any special traditions you do every New Year’s Eve or Day? (There’s also a lot of college football watching for me between getting on my Mummer’s strut.)
Check out the rest of the ReDuxer’s good luck New Year’s foods below!