I found that Italians are almost obsessed with eating lentils for the New Year. The tradition is to eat them just after midnight for success for the New Year. The coin like shape of the lentils conveys a sense of prosperity. Lentils are traditionally served with Cotechino, an Italian spicy pork sausage or Zampone—a deboned pigs foot stuffed with said sausage meat.
I searched for Cotechino or Zampone a bit late in the Holiday season, in my little town and didn’t find any. I decided to put a pork hock into the water with the lentils when I boiled them to get that pork flavor.
I’ve been told that pork signifies bounty. Pigs root forward in captivity.
Other farm animals shuffle backwards or stand still. Italians seem to avoid eating animals that move backwards or sideways on New Years day, like chickens, lobsters or crab, that could therefore lead to stumbling blocks in the future. Any other winged animals are avoided, as ones good luck could take wing and soar away.
They do enjoy their superstitions. The black cat one is shared with Americans—but the passing of a funeral procession is daunting for every Italian I’ve ever met.
Buona Fortuna e Buon Appetito.