At stroke of midnight, as one year tick-tocks into the next, Italians throughout the world partake in a time-honored tradition to reign in good luck. They eat lentils. Sure, they get trollied and act like imbeciles like we do, but they still stop to ritualistically eat lentils, as opposed to the Great American Populace who will wantonly stuff ourselves with anything our rat-arsed shnockered eyes can see, except a frickin’ lentil. With a round shape and golden hue each lentil looks like a micro-version of a Roman moneta, and, hence, has for centuries symbolized abundance. Basically on New Years, Italians eat to get rich.
Gotta love the Italians for their jubilant naivete.
It’s not that the notion of eating lentils for good luck is, in and of itself, stupid. They are in fact incredibly healthy: high in fiber, iron and protein. However, in Italy, new years lentils are not eaten in a healthy way. Traditionally they are cooked with cotecchino, a fatty thick sausage that comes in long vacuum-packed wrapping so you can just squeeze the pork right out of it. No surprise to you, in the Meal and a Spiel vision for world perfection there is nothing lucky about squeezable pork. In fact, if anything, squeezable pork is capable of reversing any glimpse of good fortune that God had coming your way.
Please note, I do not keep kosher and I will eat pork in the form of good salami or thinly sliced prosciutto, but to eat fatty ground pig out of a bag represents no mazel to this madela of meal.
How could something that could give you an insta-tack (an instant heart attack) be lucky?
In my lifetime the Italian economy has never been good. If there was ever any luck to begin with in the lentil, year after year it is killed with heaps of cotecchino oozing its cholesterol and saturated fat all over the lucrative potential of this legume. But the Italians love their cotecchino and love to complain about being broke, so it seems useless for me to try to reform the entire long standing Italian economic crisis with this one recipe for soup. Though let me tell you, I’m not so sure Lucky Lentil Soup couldn’t do the trick. It’s that good.
I might be so bold to say that even if this soup doesn’t resolve Italy’s financial troubles and even if doesn’t make you rich, and I’m not saying it won’t, with every spoonful you will feel lucky that you came across this recipe. And if you do plan on playing the lottery soon, then make sure you don’t skip the homemade chicken broth or the fennel seeds and be extra sure to love each ingredient of the soup with every stirring of the pot.
Love will unlock the luck of lentil. Try it and share a bowl with someone who could use a little extra mazel.