Six Lucky Foods for the New Year and Where to Find Them

Categories: Foodie Lists

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Black-eyed peas are said to resemble coins, a symbol of prosperity for the New Year.
Among numerous New Year's traditions (kissing at midnight, binge drinking, swearing at occupied cabs around 4 a.m.) are those of the culinary persuasion. Here are six foods that, if consumed in celebration of the New Year, will bring good luck. Or so they say.

1. Black-eyed peas
The tradition of eating black-eyed peas for good luck is a longstanding one in the South. The practice has earned that earmark of legitimacy ― a Facebook group. If our crack Wikipedia research is to be believed, the tradition arrived in Georgia in 1730 along with Sephardic Jews, for whom eating black eyed peas on Rosh Hashana was an old custom. (Although this New York Times article posits that black-eyed peas were considered lucky because they're "small and round like coins.")
Where to find them in San Francisco: Absinthe's New Year's Day BBQ brunch.


2. Soba
On New Year's Eve, many Japanese partake of a meal of toshikosi soba to bring luck. The length of the noodles represents long life.
Where to find it in San Francisco: Nombe's sake-drenched New Year's Eve bash.

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3. A dozen grapes
While most of the world is busy consuming grapes in their liquid form all night, in Spain it's traditional to down 12 grapes in their natural state ― one for each impending month, in the hope of locking down a prosperous year to come.
Where to find them in San Francisco: At the Doce Uvas de la Suerte New Year's Eve dinner at Gitane.

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4. Herring
Various types of fish are gobbled up around the world for specific lucky attributes, but in Poland it's pickled herring, usually right at the crack of midnight. This article offers a novel approach to the tradition with few recipes for herring cocktails, including a martini. We can't speak for the efficacy of this luck inducer, but we're not convinced it bodes well for successful New Year's kisses.
Where to find them in San Francisco: Miller's East Coast Deli, which sources from New York's Acme Smoked Fish ($12.99/pound).

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5. Tangerines and oranges
Tangerines and oranges are eaten on the Chinese New Year, which falls on Feb. 3 this year, ringing in the year of the rabbit. (No word on whether eating bunny meat will improve or degrade your shot at a better year, so perhaps it's best not to risk it.)
Where to find them in San Francisco: The Hamada Farms stand at Saturday's Ferry Plaza market.

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6. Doughnuts
Circles have a certain mystical appeal, what with having no end and all. (In case you doubt the singular power of the circle, here is a song that should seal the deal for you.) Eating anything circular is symbolic of luck on big occasions like New Year's (Martha Stewart says so!), but we recommend Homer Simpson's favorite: the doughnut. In case you needed an excuse to eat a doughnut.
Where to find them in San Francisco: Make a pilgrimage to Dynamo Donut and Coffee, which reopens Jan. 1 after a mini vacation.

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John Birdsall

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