Midnight breakfast is a delicious idea
One of the tastiest traditions for a New Year’s Eve celebration is a midnight meal, especially midnight breakfast. Whether you’ve returned home after an early dinner with friends or joined neighbors to raise a glass as the ball drops or find yourself amid a noisy restaurant crowd, chances are good you might be hungry, and midnight breakfast sounds like a delicious idea.
For the most basic approach, you can whip up a platter of scrambled eggs and bacon to serve with toasted bagels and cream cheese. Maybe there’s an all-night diner nearby where the short-order cook is ready with corned beef hash and home fries. Or, for something a little more elegant, consider an array of baked waffles with fresh blueberries and whipped cream, as in the photo.
Around the world, food is an integral part of ringing in the new year, and eating a specific food or meal at midnight is essential. For example, the Spanish tradition is to eat 12 grapes as the clock chimes midnight, one grape for each month of the year. For some, this may require preparation, such as peeling and seeding the grapes in advance, so that all 12 can be swallowed in time.
In Japan, they cross over into the new year with “Toshikoshi Soba” (roughly translated as “year crossing buckwheat noodle” or New Year’s Eve Noodles). The long noodles symbolize the transition from one year to the next and the noodles’ soft texture allows hardship of the past year to melt away, welcoming the fresh start of the new year’s journey.
The Greek culinary tradition (and that of many eastern European and Balkan regions) involves a sweet yeast bread into which a coin has been baked. At midnight, the bread is sliced to bring good luck and bless the household. Sometimes, slices are cut and set out as symbolic offerings to the poor or specific saints. Then, slices are given to those around the table, in order of age from the oldest to the youngest. Of course, whoever gets the slice with the coin can expect good fortune in the year ahead.
If you are celebrating in the Philippines, you may expect to see an array of round fruits on the dining table. These represent prosperity, as their round shapes resemble the shape of old gold and silver coins. Details vary on the specific process of consuming the fruit; some insist all 12 fruits must be completely eaten, while others allow a bite from each as sufficient.
French New Year’s Eve traditions are similar to those in this country, with large gatherings, lots of champagne and kissing at midnight. There’s typically an enormous feast (le réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre) where rich, decadent dishes are served, including foie gras, oysters, escargot and lobster.
Of all the New Year’s Eve traditions, many endorse the Scottish approach. To celebrate Hogmanay, the practice of “first footing” is observed. This involves being the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbor and bring them symbolic gifts: coal for warmth spiced fruit cake for abundant food, and whiskey for a merry year. Of course, if the first feet belong to a tall, dark, handsome man, the year will be auspicious indeed.
I’ve included recipes for a midnight breakfast menu of waffles and mimosas. You can add some round fruits like blueberries, raspberries and grapes to bring more good fortune to the year ahead. Happy New Year!
2 C flour
1/2 t salt
1 T baking powder
2 T sugar
3 eggs, separated
1/2 C melted butter
1 C buttermilk
1 T vanilla
Preheat waffle iron. In a medium bowl, sift together dry ingredients, set aside. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff; set aside. Whisk together egg yolks, butter, buttermilk and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in whipped egg whites. Pour 1/3 C batter for each waffle into the preheated iron. Close the lid and cook until steaming stops. Remove waffle and keep warm under aluminum foil. Repeat until all the batter is gone. Serve with whipped cream and fruit or butter and syrup. Yield: 8 waffles.
2/3 C sparkling wine*
1/3 C orange juice
1 T Grand Marnier
Make sure the sparkling wine and orange juice are very cold. Pour sparkling wine into a champagne flute, add orange juice and Grand Marnier. If desired, garnish with strawberry or orange slice. Yield: 1 serving.
*Note: sparkling wine options include French champagne, Italian prosecco or Spanish cava.