Food

Why these 5 foods are eaten for good luck in the new year

We all want health, wealth, and heaping gobs of good luck. But are we being overly superstitious by following rituals to insure we have a prosperous New Year? Superstition or not, why hedge our bets? These rituals are not only fun, they're absolutely delicious!

Lidia Bastianich's Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Onions
Lidia Bastianich's Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Onions
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
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1. Pork

The expression "high on the hog" refers to the choice cuts of pork, those from the loin, shoulder and upper leg, long reserved for the elite. The "low on the hog" cuts like belly, trotters and offal were left for poor folk. Not so today—it's all good for all folks! So naturally, pork, with its rich, delicious fattiness has come to symbolize wealth and prosperity. With so many options, sausage, ribs, bacon, ham, suckling pig...etc there's no reason not to be in "hog heaven" for at least one day.

RELATED: Spice-roasted pork ribs with apricot glaze is the perfect winter comfort food

Spice-Roasted Carrots with Lentils
Spice-Roasted Carrots with Lentils
Yossy Arefi / Courtesy of Modern Potluck, Clarkson Potter
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8-16
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2. Lentils

Italians eat lentils on New Year's for wealth and prosperity because the flat legumes were believed to resemble Roman coins. They're traditionally served with—you guessed it—pork—this time in the form of a huge sausage called cotechino that simmers with the lentils.

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3. Soba noodles

In Japan, they signify long life, but only if you eat them without breaking or chewing them. Slurp these long noodles in one piece for a good long life, or at the very least, a very tasty meal.

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4. Black–eyed peas

There are several different thoughts on why black–eyed peas have come to symbolize good luck. In America, the prevailing folklore dates back to the Civil War era, when black–eyed peas, also known as field peas, were used to feed grazing cattle. During the Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi in the late spring of 1863, the town was cut off from all food supplies for nearly two months. The people were close to starvation and resorted to eating the crops previously reserved for feeding their livestock. If it weren't for the lowly "cowpeas" (as they're also known) many people wouldn't have survived. Lucky or resourceful, those folks created one tasty tradition!

RELATED: Make Gail Simmons' black-eyed pea stew for a good luck New Year's meal

Double Sesame Greens
Double Sesame Greens
Casey Barber
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5. Greens

Greens...greenbacks...moola? Makes sense. Leafy greens resemble folded paper money symbolizing wealth and prosperity. Pair them with black–eyed peas and ham for a truly Southern New Year's tradition (both high on the luck spectrum) and triple your luck for the year.

Grace Parisi is a New York City-based food writer, cookbook author and food stylist. Her book, Get Saucy, was nominated for a James Beard award. Her latest book, Quick Pickles comes out in Spring 2016. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

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