Not Your Everyday News

Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Traditions

New Year's Eve and New Year's day are chock full of
traditions. Most people know about the red underwear
legend - how folks who want to be 'lucky' in the new year
should be wearing red panties or boxers when the year
changes over (wink wink)! In Italy, natives prepare a special
lentil soup (yum!), as there is the perception that eating
lentils will bring financial fortune in the new year. In Greece,
a special Vassilopita is baked with a gold coin wrapped in foil
inside. The Vassilopita, a sweet confection also known as St.
Basil's or New Year's cake, is then cut by the head of the family.
As that person cuts, each piece is named; the 1st is designated
for Jesus Christ, the 2nd for the Virgin Mary, the 3rd for the
house everyone is in at the moment, the 4th for the family
business. The cutter of the pita gets the next piece, and then on
down the family line. Whoever gets the piece with the coin
inside supposedly will have good luck in the new year. And in
both Italy and Greece, there is lots of late night card games,
sometimes lasting into the early morning hours. Needless to
say, on both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, there is a
amount of imbibing of various alcoholic beverages. My
personal favorite indulgence is Asti Spumante, a sweet
sparkling white wine from the Asti province of Piemonte,
a region in northwest Italy near the French border. Not to be
confused with brut (dry) French champagne, spumante goes
magnificently with Vassilopita and the various finger foods
served on this holiday, and yes, even with lentil soup! Martini &
Rossi Asti Spumante
is what I usually buy; it is not expensive
and, most importantly, it tastes great - crisp, cool, and sweet!
Over the years I have tasted various brands of Asti Spumante;
some have been cheap imitations, others low grade with a
bitter aftertaste. Martini & Rossi definitely is top notch. The
only spumante that may be a tad superior to it is the one from
the Cinzano company - Cinzano Asti Spumante is excellent, also
not pricey. However, for whatever reason, it is not as readily
available as other brands. Anyway, for the next couple of days,
hubby and I will be indulging in good eats accompanied by a bit
of bubbly...hope those bubbles knock out our colds!


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