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5 New Year’s Dishes From Around the World

Get your year off to an auspicious start with these food traditions.
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New year, new beginnings—the dawn of a New Year is the perfect opportunity to start over with a clean slate. It is little surprise that dishes eaten to celebrate are often crammed with well-meaning symbols, from good health to prosperity.

Find out how you can up your luck quotient with these New Year food traditions from around the globe.
Ozouni is a dashi- or miso-based soup filled with mochi, vegetables and meat.
Ozouni is a dashi- or miso-based soup filled with mochi, vegetables and meat.

Ozouni Soup


For traditionalists in Japan, the first meal of the New Year isn't complete without ozouni, a dashi- or miso-based soup filled with mochi, vegetables and meat that originated from samurai families in ancient Japan.

A bowl of this soul-warming broth is a symbol of longevity and good fortune. The ingredients and styles of ozouni vary by households and prefectures. In the Eastern Kanto region, the soup is typically made with sake- or mirin-spiked dashi, green vegetables, chicken and grilled gooey mochi. Those in the Western Kansai region prefer the soup to be sweeter and milky as the mochi is boiled in thicker white-hued dashi and miso stock and cooked with yam, carrot and daikon.

The shape of the mochi also varies in different versions. Ozouni, which is a combination of the Japanese words for "mixture" or "boiled food," is just one of the multitude of dishes that make up osechi-ryori, a luck-bearing assemblage of intricate bites that are neatly arranged in bento boxes.
Those who happen to bite into a fève, or small figurine, hidden in the King cake are expected to be blessed with good fortune.
Those who happen to bite into a fève, or small figurine, hidden in the King cake are expected to be blessed with good fortune.

King Cake


Pining to be royalty for a day? That dream might come through by digging into a King’s cake or galette des rois in French. The sweet bread-like cake, which is typically circular or ring-shaped, is widely eaten across the United States (especially New Orleans) and Europe. It is eaten to commemorate the Epiphany on January 6, which marks the three wise men’s visit to Jesus.

In France, the galette des rois is a buttery puff pastry cake filled with almond cream and its flaky golden crust is scored with designs. In New Orleans, the plaited ring cake is adorned with colored icing and sprinkles, which is also used to celebrate the Mardi Gras festival.

Traditionally, each cake has a fève or figurine hidden in it—the lucky person who gets it can don a paper crown that comes with the cake for the day, which is seen as a sign of good luck.
Hoppin' John is a hearty one-dish meal of black-eyed peas, pork and greens.
Hoppin' John is a hearty one-dish meal of black-eyed peas, pork and greens.

Hoppin’ John


If you’re welcoming the New Year in the southern states of America, there is no escaping Hoppin’ John, a rice dish made with pork, black-eyed peas, collard greens and onions, and is often served with cornbread.

Tradition calls it to be eaten on the first day of the New Year. Seeking brighter fortunes for 2019? Each component of the colorful dish brims with symbolism of wealth—the black-eyed peas represent “coins,” the cornbread stands for “gold” and the collard greens represent the color of money. The dish is believed to have been brought over by African slaves who toiled in the rice plantations in South Carolina and Georgia.
To the Italians, lentil stew is a symbol of wealth and good fortune.
To the Italians, lentil stew is a symbol of wealth and good fortune.

Lentil Stew


In Italy, revelers usher in the New Year with cotechino con lenticchie, a hearty stew of fresh pork sausages and lentils.

Hailing from Modena in Emilia-Romagna, the stew represents an abundance of prosperity as lentils resemble the shape of coins. Topping the mound of lentils is cotechino, or fat-studded pork sausage seasoned with nutmeg, cloves and pepper, which is regarded as auspicious.

The Kransekage is a towering marzipan ring cake that is adorned with icing.
The Kransekage is a towering marzipan ring cake that is adorned with icing.

Kransekage


Not many New Year’s food are as towering as the Kransekage, a marzipan ring cake that is traditionally eaten to mark the dawn of a New Year in Denmark and Norway.

Also known as a wreath cake, the tower is constructed by piling concentric rings of cakes on top of each other until a cone-like shape is formed. The cake’s layers are simply made with marzipan, sugar and egg whites, and are baked until the crust is crisp and the insides are moist. The tower is adorned white icing, cream, crackers and flags.

To eat it, the ring cakes are taken out separately and broken into small pieces. Kransekage, which is believed to have started in the 1700s, was initially known as overflødighedshorn, which is the Danish word for cornucopia, the ancient emblem of abundance in the form of a curved, hollow goat’s horn.
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