It’s difficult to say if small, coin-like lentils actually attract wealth, or whether black-eyed peas truly invite good fortune. But, it’s equally difficult to say that any of these are not true. Around the world, people eat foods that are thought to symbolize luck in the New Year. So why not cover all the bases with these celebratory eats?
Grapes | Do as they do in Spain by consuming 12 grapes at the strike of midnight—or, more specifically, in the first 12 seconds of the New Year. But don’t be a false starter by eating one before the minute hand hits twelve. That’s said to bring bad luck. Get your fill of this good luck berry with sopa de ajo con cangrejo (chilled almond and garlic soup with crabmeat and grapes; $14) at Jaleo by José Andrés in the Cosmopolitan.
Soba Noodles | One of Japan’s most beloved foods, soba (also known as buckwheat noodles), is customarily eaten at midnight. The noodles symbolize longevity, so the longer the better. Go ahead and slurp some zaru soba (chilled soba noodles dipped in sauce) at I-Naba (3210 S. Decatur Blvd., $8.)
Lentils | In addition to being delicious, the lentil’s resemblance to a tiny coin symbolizes wealth and financial rewards. In Italy, it’s customary to eat sausages with lentils after midnight. B&B Ristorante in the Venetian offers cotechino sausage with lentils, Blue Lizard Farm turnips and horseradish ($16).
Bagels | In the morning on New Year’s Day, toast yourself with a bagel, which symbolizes prosperity because it’s round, and because the year has finally come full circle. The Bagel Cafe (301 N. Buffalo Dr.) has 24 varieties from which to choose, including plain, jalapeño and chocolate chip for $12 for a baker’s dozen (here, 14).
Pork | Like grapes and bagels, anything round can be a symbol of prosperity, and the very nature of the pig’s rotund physique makes it one of the luckiest foods to eat on New Year’s Day. Pigs also symbolize progress, because of its rooting behavior. Cut in the Venetian offers a double-thick Kurobuta chop with Bartlett pear and quince mostarda ($38) and Carnevino in the Palazzo serves a 20-ounce bone-in chop ($46).
Black-Eyed Peas | Perhaps the most widespread culinary New Year’s Day good-luck tradition in the U.S. is Hoppin’ John—another lucky legume—a dish of black-eyed peas served with rice and pork. Enjoy seared sea scallops with smoked bacon and black-eyed pea succotash with sweet corn cream ($44) at Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House in MGM Grand.
Illustrations by Cierra Pedro