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International New Year’s Food

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International New Year’s Food

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What to expect in other parts of the world

New Year’s Eve is the best time to plan for the new year ahead by creating a new resolution or doing something special with family. While Americans celebrate New Year’s with fireworks or parties until midnight, many people in other countries celebrate by gathering with family and eating food. Some of them believe these foods can bring luck to their lives in the coming year. 

Here is a list of traditional foods people serve for New Year’s Eve in Asia and Europe.


 

Carl Vincent Carallas / Staff Illustration

Glutinous Rice Cake (China and Taiwan)

While in China people call it ‘nian gao’ (nien-kao) meaning ‘higher year’, in Taiwan they call it hong gui gao (hung- kuei-kao). It is usually served during the Spring Festival which happens the same time as Chinese New Year. The shape is round and the texture is sticky because it is made from sticky rice with sugar, starch and water. The history of nian gao comes from the Liao Dynasty, when it was served as a snack, and it remains a common snack today. Nian gao can be served cold or warm.

Carl Vincent Carallas / Staff Illustration

Banh Chung and Banh Day (Vietnam)

Banh chung (ban-chung) and banh day (ban-day)  are traditional cakes from Vietnam that are always served during the Tet Holiday (Vietnamese New Year). They are both made from the same ingredients but come in different forms. Banh chung is a square cake that symbolizes Earth and bahn day is a round cake that symbolizes sky, according to ancient Vietnamese culture. The main ingredient is glutinous rice with pork and green beans inside. The rice is wrapped in bamboo leaves before boiling the cakes for 12 hours. Making banh chung and banh day is a way to remember one’s ancestors. Even though making it is time consuming and requires many people, it can be a good chance for families to gather.

Carl Vincent Carallas / Staff Illustration

Kamaboko (Japan)

Kamaboko is a kind of fish cake that originated in Japan and is served at the beginning and end of the year. Surimi, which is white fish, is the main ingredient in kamaboko. It’s easy to make kamaboko since all that is required is mashing white fish with additional seasoning. After that, the fish is formed into different shapes of kamaboko, which can be cooked by boiling or frying. People usually color kamaboko red and white, which are lucky colors in Japan. Kamaboko can also be formed into a rolling style that is usually added to ramen.

Carl Vincent Carallas / Staff Illustration

Tteokguk (Korea)

Tteokguk (deeok-guk) is a traditional food from Korea that was served during the war between Korea and China. It was used as a ceremonial food. The main ingredient is rice that is mixed with water to create small rice cakes. Some people add flowers to add color to the cakes. The broth is made from beef, chicken or pork. In ancient Korea, rice cakes were uncommon because they were regarded as an expensive food, so they were only served during holidays or Seollal (Korean New Year). Nowadays, this food still remains on the table during Seollal.

Carl Vincent Carallas / Staff Illustration

Ayam Taliwang (Indonesia)

Ayam taliwang (a-yam tal-ee-wong), which means spicy chicken, originates from the eastern region of Indonesia. Ayam taliwang has a long history that started from the war between Indonesian kingdoms in Taliwang. This war also involved chefs and Muslim priests, who would cook and pray for the kingdoms. The chefs’ task was to serve food that was sourced from nature and they chose to call it ‘chicken that comes from Taliwang’. The way people cook ayam taliwang is really unique. First they wash and cut the chicken. Then they grill it half-way before dipping it into cooking oil, spicy sauce with garlic and shrimp paste. In the end, the chicken is grilled or fried to serve. Indo Cafe is a recommended place to find this cuisine because they always serve fresh chicken with different kinds of spices. This restaurant is located at 13754 Aurora Ave. N. Haller Lake in Seattle.

Carl Vincent Carallas / Staff Illustration

Pork and Sauerkraut (Germany)

Germans believe that eating sauerkraut will bring as much prosperity as the number of pieces of cabbage on the plate. Each shred represents money, so the more people eat sauerkraut at midnight on New Year’s Eve, the better their lives will be. They usually eat it with pork sausage or pig feet because pork symbolizes luck or fortune. If anyone wants to eat pork and sauerkraut, they can visit Bruno’s European restaurant, which is located at 10902 Bridgeport Way SW. in Lakewood. They have a dish called Farshinki with Oma’s Sauerkraut Salad that has potato dumplings inside.

Carl Vincent Carallas / Staff Illustration

Rice Pudding (Norway)

Almost every country has its own rice pudding. In Norway, rice pudding is served with butter, sugar and cinnamon. Norwegians believe if someone finds an almond hidden in the rice pudding during New Year’s, that person will have more prosperity and a sweet life in the year ahead.

Carl Vincent Carallas / Staff Illustration

Poppy Seeds (Eastern Europe)

Poppy seeds symbolize prosperity and wealth. That is why they are not only served at Christmas time, but also during New Year’s, as Eastern European believe that each seed brings luck. Poppy seeds are made into poppy seed rolls and are a well-known food in Russia, Poland, Hungary and Lithuania. Poppy seeds can also be used in muffins. Bella Latte Cafe, located at 6450 Tacoma Mall Blvd, serves homemade poppy seed muffins.

Carl Vincent Carallas / Staff Illustration

Raclette (Switzerland and France)

During the winter season, the French celebrate with raclette (rah-kleht) cheese. There is no specific history for how raclette came to France, but it was well-known by shepherds in the Swiss Alps. While they were herding their flocks in the mountains, they melted the cheese and put it on bread for dinner. Raclette cheese is easy to find and is sold at both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

Carl Vincent Carallas / Staff Illustration

Oliebollen (Netherlands)

Oliebollen (oly-bolen) are served during the winter season since they are always good to warm the stomach. Oliebollen, which is made of flour and sugar as the main ingredients, has a history behind it. The donuts began with an evil goddess named Perchta. During Christmas time, she was looking for something to fill her stomach and would slice people’s stomachs to get food. From that history, the Dutch believe that eating Oliebollen can help to maintain their body temperature during the winter using fat. That’s why this donut is served as a Dutch New Year’s tradition.

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