New Year’s Eve celebrations come in all forms. Big galas, first night events, intimate dinner parties, vacations in Barbados…but I chose to celebrate with tripe, sausages, lentils and balloon popping…alla Capogreco style. New Year’s in my home has traditionally been family and friends with a midnight traditions of popping balloon, roasted homemade sausage sandwiches, zeppole, panettone,chestnuts and a taste of lentil soup (to offer the hope of a prosperous New Year) all washed down with a good bottle of Asti Spumante.
Pork and lentils in Italian culture is symbolic of wealth and prosperity. In Calabrese tradition this is what we are accustomed too. So, my mother gets busy days before making homemade sausages for us to enjoy at midnight.
We were also treated to a delicacy (thank you Francesco Daniele) of ocean fresh sea urchins and oysters on the half shell. I’ve never tried sea urchin. It has a very particular taste with a luxurious texture that was enhanced with squirts of lemon. I loved it and so did my father who polished them off! Francesco even got a very picky 8 year old to indulge.
There was a time, I’d say when my cousins and I were in our late teen early twenties where we ordered Chinese food on NYE for a few years instead of eating our traditional meal but the sausage and lentils always remained at midnight. We somehow (thankfully) moved back to our original plan which in my humble opinion is better.
I remembered many New Year’s Eve parties especially with my grandparents and each year was the same but varied depending on situations. But something what always remained with us is a recording of a record that was made over 100 years in Calabria, specifically the town where my parents hail from, Marina di Gioiosa Ionica. The tune is called “Buone Feste” part 1 and 2. My grandparents sang it to the sound of my Nonno’s guitar. The scratchy original recording has been transferred to a cd which I continue to play ever year. The song is an ad lib from a bunch of guys who would travel door to door on New Year’s eve and serenade their friends. The words were simple and sung in a very Calabrese dialect. I remember as a kid blocking my ears because as kids who would find this entertaining?
This year my cousin’s kids brought their friends over who were just about to exit the door at 11:57PM to watch the fireworks. I stopped them and said “No pop balloons with us and try an incredible sausage sandwich. Trust me, you will appreciate it; maybe not now but in 10 years. Not only that you will listen to a song that you never heard of before.
I don’t think it will take ten years…probably took just ten minutes to appreciate it… well maybe not the song
I hope that the first stranger encounter you have in 2013 is with a male because as our legend goes, if the first person you see after midnight is male you will have good luck for the rest of the year. If you don’t, I recommend you eat more lentils and sausage!
Buon Anno and enjoy the Buone Feste.