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The Night of the Red Underwear

In Italy, New Years Eve, l'ultimo dell'anno, is celebrated with rites, rituals and events that are meant to bring good fortune, happiness and prosperity in the coming year. Derived from Roman celebrations in honor of Janus, the god of gates, doorways, beginnings and endings. New Year's Eve in Italy is a time to put an end to the problems of the past and open the door to the possibilities of the New Year. And you want to ensure that you do so in the most fortuitous manner.

Celebrate the New Year wearing something red, the traditional color of good fortune. If you're Italian that would be red underwear! 

At the table eat New Year's Day eat 12 grapes for good luck and prosperity following an old Italian proverb - Chi mangia l’uva per Capodanno, maneggia i quattrini tutto l’anno, “Whoever eats grapes on New Year, will handle money all year".Fill your table with regional Italian dishes that symbolize good fortune and abundance. Pork, risotto or coin shaped pasta and specialty sausages like cotechino and zampone served with lentils are traditional to the holiday. If you can't find cotechino or a zampone (stuffed pig's trotter), make your favorite sausage to serve with

Capodanno Lentil Soup.

  • 10 1/2 ounces (300 grams) lentils

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil*

  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped

  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1 medium can diced tomatoes with juice

  • 1 pinch of red pepper flakes

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 6 cups (1 1/2 liters) of chicken or vegetable broth

  • sea salt and coarsely ground pepper to taste

  • extra-virgin olive oil for serving

Rinse the lentils and set aside to drain. Prepare a soffritto of chopped celery, carrot, onion, and garlic in the olive oil in a casserole or soup pot over low heat until soft and the onion is translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, then add the red pepper flakes and bay leaf. Add the lentils and cover with 6 cups broth. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook about an hour over low-medium heat until the lentils are tender (add water if necessary). Adjust seasonings and serve ladled into bowls topped with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. When reheating any leftovers, add some water to loosen the lentils.

Serve pomegranates for dessert, its innumerable seeds suggest fertility and

wealth since ancient Roman times and cannoncino, a cream-filled Italian pastry shaped like a horn in the stye of a cornucopia, a symbol of abundance and good fortune. Open a window and toss

out a few old dishes to symbolize “letting go” of past unhappiness. End New Year's festivities with a bonfire, faló del vecchione, popular in Bologna and other northern Italian towns.

Then make an Italian toast to the 365 days that have just passed and start the New Year with the best 365 days to come. Buon Anno!

*Special New Year Pricing

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