New Year's Eve is a time for all things “new” - beginnings, resolutions and a chance to start again with a fresh slate. Yet many cultures traditionally bid adieu to the old year by eating particular foods that will hopefully ensure much happiness and prosperity over the following 365 days.
For instance, if you find yourself in Spain, you should be eating grapes for good luck once the clock strikes midnight, or if you’re partying in Germany, you’ll most likely be dining on pork and sauerkraut. Here in the United States, Southern states customarily eat kale, collard greens and black-eyed peas as they are supposed to resemble money. Whilst the Greek tradition is to have a slice of ‘Vasilopita’ - a cake baked with a coin in the batter – whoever finds the lucky coin is blessed with good luck for the rest of the year.
New Year’s Eve in Italy is traditionally celebrated by wearing red underwear, drinking plenty of Prosecco and eating specific Italian dishes such as white risotto, Zampone (a dish made from pig’s feet) and raisins. Another significant Italian tradition is to eat ‘Cotechino e Lenticchie’ (lentils and sausage) during the New Year’s feast, which is said to bring good luck and prosperity in the New Year. The tradition of eating the lentils dates back to 1511 and originated when the people in the City of Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, were surrounded by the troops of Pope Giulio Della Rovere ll. Stranded within their own walls, the people of Modena prepared Cotechino to maximize all parts of the pig in order to survive and prolong their ability to stay within the walls.
Historically, dry lentils were used in place of money for late night games played after dinner. The more lentils a person won, the more 'money' they had. Italian customs adapted the symbolism during the New Year to bring prosperity after midnight to those who consume the lentils. Generations have been preparing Cotechino ever since to maintain the tradition as a symbol of good luck.
This year Armani/Ristorante in New York isinviting diners to indulge in a luxurious six-course prix fixe sumptuous menu prepared by Executive Chef Sandro Romano. The dinner will include a champagne toast at Midnight and the 'good luck food' Cotechino e Lenticchie to be consumed after midnight, as well as other festivities such as a DJ and Band Trio.
Giorgio Armani first opened the restaurant in 1998 inside the Armani clothing store on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. It is located two floors above the shop so diners are guaranteed panoramic views of the New York skyline.
To maintain the originality of the dish, Chef Romano prepares Cotechino in a classic way by grinding the shoulder of the pork and rind finely into the outer part of the guts. Chef Romano than adds the grinded pork elements to boiling water with vegetables, including onions, carrots and celery to elevate the flavor. The second part of the dish, includes the lentils, which are cooked separately.
To stay true to Armani/Ristorante's DNA and to bring this topical, Italian tradition to the United States, the Cotecchino e Lenticchie dish was a genuine and natural choice to offer at the restaurant especially as Mr. Armani hails from the Emilia-Romagna region . "I'm very excited to prepare a dish with such great Italian tradition at the restaurant,' Chef Romano stated. "We're happy to share this dish with and hope it will bring good luck!”
Whether or not you believe in superstitions, at least you will be ringing in the New Year in style and with a full stomach!
Buon Anno Tutti!