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Thursday, January 1, 2015

The "Starting Out The New Year Right" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Smelling the scent of pork and sauerkraut emanating from the kitchen.  Yep, today is New Year's Day and if you don't eat Lancaster County, PA's traditional January 1 meal of pork and sauerkraut your 1915 will be a disaster.  While growing up my mom always had pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day.  Couldn't drive anywhere in Lancaster County over the past few weeks where you didn't come upon a sign along the road that advertised a "Pork and Kraut Dinner" for today.  Morning newspaper advertised 8 places to go to have your traditional meal today and I'm sure there are plenty more places you can stop for an hour or so and have the meal that you can't go without today.  So what else do you eat with pork and sauerkraut?  Well, mashed potatoes, applesauce and rolls and butter fill the bill in our family and I assume many other families in the county.  So why do we eat pork and sauerkraut today?  Easy explanation is: Good Luck!  It is well known that pigs root forward for their food which means that by eating the pork you will be looking ahead in the new year, whereas eating something like chicken or turkey, which scratches backward for their food, will lead you in the wrong direction.  That takes care of the meat for the meal, but what about the kraut part.  Seems that sauerkraut is the national dish of the Pennsylvania Dutch and is also a cold-weather food so it goes perfect in this winter climate.  It's also hearty and fills you up and warms your innards on a cold January day.  I guess I must be Pennsylvania Dutch, since I love to eat sauerkraut and pork on New Year's Day.  I must admit that my wife adds a few hot dogs to the batch when they are cooking in the oven, since hotdogs cooked in sauerkraut are extremely tasty.  My daughter, who married a young man from Maryland, where they don't celebrate the Pennsylvania Dutch traditions or any other eating traditions, still makes her husband and two young girls consume at least a few stands of the kraut, since she knows what will happen if you don't eat it.  "Bad Luck" for the rest of the year until you get a chance the next year to eat it once again.  As for my household, we will have sauerkraut and pork probably once a month so our luck won't sauer throughout the year.  You never know when you are going to need that little extra bit of luck during 2015. I certainly can use it.  Better get eating!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of ordinary guy.

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