Saturday, January 1, 2011

To new beginnings.

Scotch eggs w/ HP Sauce. © Ryan Schierling
In the past, I've traditionally made some ridiculous New Year's resolutions that were promptly broken or left terminally unfulfilled. You know, like training for the Tour De France (don't own a bike), becoming hot dog eating world champion (honestly, who eats a hot dog with nothing on it?), or achieving a true simmer on a non-gas range (it's like not drinking beer on a weeknight, it's just not going to happen).

So I've stopped making resolutions and started making foods that people historically prepare for luck in the new year, because I seem to need all of the luck I can get.

It's a Southern tradition to eat Hoppin' John (a blackeyed peas with rice dish) at the stroke of midnight on New Year's eve. Others swear by cornbread. Cubans eat 12 grapes when the clock strikes twelve, and Germans insist that eating herring will bring luck for the next year (no telling how fish breath affects the traditional New Year's kiss). In Buddhist temples, noodles are consumed, and the Pennsylvania Dutch go for pork and sauerkraut to usher in the new year.

Julie and I have been making Scotch eggs on New Year's day for six years now. I'm not sure how this originally came about, but I seem to remember reading something about eggs symbolizing a birth, a new beginning, and feeling it was appropriate fare for a hungover first day of January. 

The origins of this dish, like most, are nebulous. Despite the claim of being invented by a London department store in 1738, I'm betting on the Persian migration of kofta to India and the Moghul emperors' version of "narcissus meatballs," or nargisi kofta. But they're certainly more common as a British pub staple now than anything else, and we prepare them as such, with the requisite British brown steak sauce.

(L) Quail eggs. (R) Meats and non-meats sausage. © Ryan Schierling
We used regular chicken eggs the first year, and once wrapped with sausage and breaded, they were the size of baseballs. Let's just say too much of a good thing. Every year since, we've sourced quail eggs to enclose in two different types of sausage – the porky kind for me, and the Gimme Lean vege-sausage for Julie. Both versions are delicious hot or cold, but you've got to have the HP Sauce for dipping.

What are your traditional New Year's dishes?

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