Hoppin’ into the New Year!
This is the first of my food related column that I will be focusing on guilt-free gourmet. Seasonal flavors, whole grains, fulfilling proteins, luscious fruits and vegetables, and of course, an occasional sweet, will be spotlighted, in informative articles and sumptuous recipes. There will also be hints on how to buy, where to buy and nutritional content.
“Eat poor for New Year’s and eat fat (good) for the rest of the year.”
Happy New Year!!! The wheel spins round again. Amazing isn’t it? New Year’s Day was originally celebrated by the ancient Babylonians on the first visible crescent moon after spring equinox. This seems logical to do because of the rebirth of the earth after the winter sleep. January first, on the other hand, has no astronomical or agricultural significance. It was picked, basically, out of a hat in 46 BC, by the Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar after a lot of hub bub. Thus the Julian calendar was established and here we are today celebrating the same New Year’s Day as the raucous Romans.
Traditionally it was thought that one could affect their luck for the year by what they did or ate on the first day of the year. Therefore it seems like a good idea to spend it with family and friends doing wonderful things like eating and drinking. There are certain foods that are considered good luck to eat on New Year’s Day as well. For example, the Dutch believe that snarfing down donuts brings good luck for the following year. It all got started when someone came up with the bright idea that because donuts are round and if you eat one, you might come round again. (Let’s see, cookies are round too!.) In many parts of America, the traditional food to eat for good luck is black eyed peas. The old saying that goes along with this custom is, “eat poor for New Year’s and eat fat (good) for the rest of the year.” Popular food to eat along side the black eyed legumes is ham, which will bring you no lack of good food in the coming year, (eating high on the hog) and greens that represents financial success. I like to throw a few tomatoes in for love as well. The favorite New Year’s recipe all these foods are highlighted in is “Hoppin’ John.” There are as many theories on where this dish got its name, as ways to cook it. It’s as individual as the person celebrating the first day of the year.
This recipe for Hoppin’ John has a Northwest twist to it that is a traditional food of many from our area on New Year’s Day, the delectable crab. I wonder if that means we will be crabby for the rest of year? I’d like to think of it more as we are eating a food that will surround us with good friends and family with no lack of great chow, honoring a food from our beautiful area.
Hoppin’ John Crab Salad
1 ½ cups of cooked long grain rice
1 cup of cooked black eyed peas, canned is fine
½ cup chopped red onion
½ cup of chopped celery
1/3 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbls of chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbls of olive oil
½ tsp of salt
½ tsp of fresh cracked black pepper
½ pound of fresh cracked crab, shells removed
8 or more slices of the best tomatoes you can find this time of the year
This is an easy one, just combine all the ingredients but the tomato slices and greens in a bowl and toss gently. Divide on 4 beautiful plates on a bed of greens with the tomato slices on top and eat immediately. Serve with Raspberry Champagne cocktails. Pour 1 shot glass of Chambord, (an amazing raspberry liqueur, available at our liquor store) in a champagne flute or wine glass, and top off with a nice champagne. Garnish each glass with frozen raspberries and toast to the new year!