Pass on the Peas, Here Are Alternative Good Luck Options for New Year's Day

Noodles for longevity all day.
Noodles for longevity all day. Lauren Drewes Daniels
As we tiptoe wide-eyed into 2021 with trepidation, we could all use some good luck. The most common go-to in Texas is a pot of black-eyed peas, but it turns out those odd, greenish-grey oblong orbs are imposters: black-eyed peas aren’t even peas, rather beans. With an eye toward truth and transparency in a year that has at times lacked them, let's consider new traditions. Some of which have us wondering why we haven't made the switch years ago.

Noodles for Longevity

In many Asian countries, noodles are the go-to food on the celebration of a new year because they signify longevity. There’s a caveat though, you’re supposed to Lady and Tramp the noodles, being careful not to bite or break them as you go. And good news, there are noodles everywhere in this city. Arirang Korean Kitchen, Khao Noodle Shop, La Me, Mr. Max, Tei-An and Wu Wei Din are all on our Top 100 Restaurants list. That's some luck right there. And we also recently swooned about the ramen at TEN. A Disney classic and a bowl of noodles? That’s a priceless start to the new year.

Sauerkraut for Dollars

In parts of Europe and the United States, many indulge in piles of sauerkraut on New Year’s Day. There are a lot of ideas on why; the cabbage is green like money, or the long shreds of cabbage, like noodles, represent longevity. Others say it’s just good timing; back in the day when seasons dictated menus, cabbage was harvested in the fall, pickled and preserved for eight weeks, making early January a perfect time to crack open a jar. Anyhoosee, we know about a few good Reuben sandwiches (some of those spots are sadly shuttered). Add to the list the Reuben at Goodfriend Package Store, which is open on New Year's Day.

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A spread at Kendall Karsen's Upscale Soul Food: Ask for the pork loaded cabbage for a twofer.
Alison McLean

Pork for Progress

While there’s some mention of pig roast on New Year's Day as a sign of wealth, there’s also lore that since a pig always roots forward, it’s a sign of progress for the upcoming year. Just keep your nose down and keep on digging. If you’re a purist, head to Billy Can Can for "over-the-top in a good way" pork chops or go upscale soul food and get a twofer at Kendall’s Karsen’s pork-loaded cabbage. And there is certainly no shortage of pastor tacos around North Texas, including Trompo, Urban Taco and Chilangos.

Pomegranate for Fertility and Abundance

In some Mediterranean countries, pomegranates are associated with abundance and fertility. Or maybe an abundance of fertility. Either way, pomegranates are heart-healthy, too. While the use of pomegranates in dishes is elusive, they’re in season and several desserts can be made with them, or just split one open and eat.

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The cake vending machine at Cake Bar is the new sign of good luck.
Lauren Drewes Daniels

Round Cake for the Circle of Life

In parts of the Mediterranean, families share slices of cake on New Year's Day, sometimes with a hidden coin, and the recipient is thought to have good luck. (Why have we been eating beans masquerading as peas when we could be eating cake?) There are options galore for bundt cakes, but we love Cake Bar’s vending machine with the huge slices of homestyle cake; think of everyone else who ate the other slices of that very cake as your “cake” family. Leila Bakery in East Dallas has an orange-chocolate bundt cake plus a build-your-own, single-serving option at their new spot at Legacy Hall in Plano. And if you come home with a black forest cake from Henk’s, you are most certainly starting the year off right.
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.