Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Pennsylvania German New Year

As you know, I have been sharing various Pennsylvania German traditions lately. They've all been things I love about my culture and background. Today I will share something that I find truly revolting. This is a tradition I am glad to say my mother never tormented me with when I was growing up, but I have endured under other people. Times when I have spoken out against it I have incurred the wrath of angry dutchmen, had my character questioned, and been told I clearly am lacking in appreciation for my upbringing. I've been viewed with not a small amount of contempt. In my humble opinion I will gladly bear the burden as I continue to campaign against so horrific a tradition as this.

By now you must be wondering what atrocity I may be about to introduce you. Be warned, it is not for those with a weak constitution. Only those with the strongest stomachs and a taste for utter vileness could begin to endure it. It is the New Year's Day meal..........

Pork and Sauerkraut.

Excuse me while I take a minute to regain my composure. Even typing the words made me feel queasy. *Shudders*

Now I can appreciate that in the dark days of winter centuries ago sauerkraut was the main source of vitamin C and other important nutrients. It kept my ancestors from developing scurvy and other unpleasant deficiencies. May I just give a whoop and a holler and an Hallelujah for fresh citrus fruits and multivitamins in this day and age? Sorry, I simply find sauerkraut to be an entirely horrendous thing to eat. The smell alone makes me nauseous. Growing up in PA dutch country the school served this swill once a week. It was torment because that stench wafted through the entire school and the closer I got to the cafeteria the more pungent the smell was and the more I began to struggle to control my gag reflex.

Mr. Lime's mother grew up in a PA Dutch area and would not consider forgoing this traditional meal on New Year's Day for fear of tempting the fates to curse her with bad luck, not to mention she actually likes the stuff. There is no accounting for taste in some people. Fortunately for me, although Mr. Lime grew up eating it and actually likes the taste, his more delicate gastrointestinal makeup does not find Pork and Sauerkraut a particularly agreeable combination. He can eat one or the other, but not the two in combination.

His mother reeled in shock and horror during our first New Year's together. She asked if anyone was opposed to the traditional New Year's Fare. Being the naive bride I was, I assumed asking for my opinion meant a truthful answer was actually desired. I quickly, though respectfully, expressed my fervent desire not to be subjected to the putrescence that is a PA Dutch New Year's Day meal. After the flames from her eyes stopped burning through my chest I steadied myself and added that her son, though he enjoyed the food, preferred not spending all of January 2 feeling like his innards were being torn inside out. Such impertinence! The flamethrowers were turned to 'incinerate.' I was directed to provide the family with alternate eats and prepared a somewhat crunchy lasagna as the recipe I had for lasagna that required no precooking of noodles did not turn out quite as well as it had every other time. It must have been the start of bad luck that I brought on us for all of the year by avoiding the ritual of rotted cabbage. No matter, I defiantly waived a forkful of firmer than al dente pasta heavenward.

Over the years I have tried traditional New Year's food from other places. We had two different Taiwanese students live with us and they treated us to a lovely sort of noodle soup in which the trick was to see who found the longest noodle in his or her bowl to determine who would have the best luck of the year. In Trinidad the tradition is to have fish broth either on Old Year's Night (it's not called New Year's eve there) or New Year's Day. That was tasty enough but I wasn't too crazy about fish heads floating in my soup bowl.

I understand different parts of the USA have different traditional foods too. I have no doubt many countries have different foods too. Share with me your menu for good luck in the new year. I'm looking for an alternative. Let me know especially if chocolate is involved. In the meantime, the Lime family will be pushing our luck and having stuffed shells this year.

Happy New Year to each and every one of you.


barman said...


I am afraid no traditions from me here. Although I must say I like s....... I like sauerkraut. There I said it. But I sure can see how you would not like it.

I think maybe chocolate fondue? We will call it a Swiss tradition.

tsduff said...

I like sauerkraut. Don't really know about the chocolate angle though. I prefer it with my polish dog.

Happy Happy first day of 2008!

Palm Springs Savant said...

that sounds good actually. We usually do a pork roast...and Black Beans...which everyone must stir for good luck.

Happy New Year Michelle!

Casdok said...

Never had it!!!! But dosnt sound as though i am missing out!
Happy new year!

barman said...

Oh darn. Fondue, although French or Swiss in origin... chocolate fondue originated in New York. So much for the foreign twist I was trying to add.

furiousBall said...

i don't care for sauerkraut either, but i'll still say happy new years!

Apple said...

I never could get past the smell either. My daughter-in-law makes it and my son and their boys love it. Go figure. We used to have a tradition of a big pancake breakfast for New Year day. It would be quite easy to add some chocolate chips to the batter.

Happy New Year!

Rurality said...

Eww. And I thought our New Years Day food tradition was bad: turnip greens and black eyed peas!

Though my husband would love either one.

Anonymous said...

HAPPY NEW YEAR LIME...!!! missing our very occasional chats but always try to look in your blog, even if i don't have time to comment...!!! ;) have a great 2008 babe...see you soon, mwah...!!! xxx

Logophile said...

Growing up our tradition was lots and lots of good finger foods and that type of food. Perfectly suited to a day of relaxing and watching TV.

Happy New Year, hon!

airplanejayne said...

sour kraut.

crunchy lasagna.

chocolate. anything chocolate.

I vote for chocolate anything.


lecram said...

LOL! What a treat to start the new year with another charming, stellar and witty post from you. Cheers!

Seamus said...

Our tradition was all about "greens (collard, turnip or mustard) and black eyed peas" - money and luck respectively! The more you ate the more ... well you get the picture.

Happy New Year Michelle!!!! We are well met!!! :)

Rebicmel said...

Happy Happy 2008

Pauline said...

Happy New Year!

Gledwood said...

Germans have an UNFORTUNATE "thang" about swineflesh... I really do not understand it - ook!

In my opinion 2008 is better than 2007 already. All 20 hours of it!


M said...

I don't come from a heritage that has a particular New Year's Day meal. If anything I would say chips and salsa. If I am celebrating New Years usually I am at a friends house and it is a "party" with the usual finger foods that go along with a casual get together.

BTExpress said...

Another thing you've taught me about my kin folks, thanks!

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TLP said...

Happy New Year! Rabbit rabbit.

SignGurl said...

I loathe the smell of sauerkraut. I heave at the mere mention of it. Ack!

We had pork today and it didn't sit well with me. I would have preferred your stuffed shells.

I tried that lasagna method (the one where you use hot sauce) once when my Sicilian mother in law came to dinner. Mine had the same reaction.

Happy New Year!!

SIMPLY ME said...

I'm German and looooove sauerkraut. Your'e suppose to rinse it first and then add caraway seeds, yummy.
Course I love all food. Tony's in the kitchen starting our New Years Pork dinner. Happy 2008 to the house of Lime

Anonymous said...

nightowl said... pork and sauerkraut is great but you forgot the dumplings! Happy New Year 2008.

Jeni said...

I'm not German- ethnic background is Scottish and Swedish - but we always have pork and kraut on New Year's. I don't use caraway seeds but I do put a healthy dollop of brown sugar in with the kraut and then slow cook it in ye olde crockpot. I don't cook/serve it out of superstitions, just that it's a ritual I guess. Nothing wrong with the lasagne though or stuffed shells are good too. make your own tradition with some meal your family really loves and to heck with what others say or think. If my ex and the kids hadn't liked P&K I doubt I would have become ingrained with the mode of cooking it for New Year's though. I like it well enough myself, but I love Italian dishes too -multi-ethnic food grouper here ya know. Chocolate anything is always good!

Kristie said...

Happy 2008! Found you from Renny's blog :) Kristie in Norway

Charles said...

Ugh. Fermented (soured) cabbage and pork. The tradition here is like that of Rurality and Seamus. I don't believe in it though. I think any time you get served pasta, Lasagna or shells or manicotti, you're already enjoying good luck.

Have a Happy New year, Lime.

(Interesting Word verification word this time: "buznone.")

Dorky Dad said...

Mmmmm ... sauerkraut and pork. Specifically pork brats. Mmmmm ... I will think of you Lime each time I have that. Too bad I've eaten already.

ttfootball said...

Happy New Year!!
I hope you had a chance to have the Old Year's night black eye peas?

G-Man said...

Kraut and Pork...?
That is a great combo!!!
Kraut and pork spareribs are to die for!!!
Man...I'm starving now!!!
Have a Happy New Year Michelle..xoxox

S said...

I thought you were gonna say that you had to eat scrapple.

But ew saurkraut....|I'll bet the entire county smells like farts today!Hahah|!

Happy New Year Michelle!

KaMotion said...

My mother in-law brought over a tub of Pickled Herring. It's the family tradition for luck to have a taste of pickled herring. I have plenty of leftovers if anyone cares for some. (Herring is loaded with those good Omega-3s, don't ja know.)

The gross holiday food my husband likes is kale-mint-pinklewurst. I had to spell it phonetically, because it's another one of those German gastronomic family traditions.

Happy New Year.

Jocelyn said...


First Dorky Dad starts tormenting me with the canned pork thing, and now you're adding in the kraut.

Good think I adore you both, or you'd be covered with my vomit.

Instead, I'm turning my head and aiming for the garbage can.

Bunny said...

I absolutely despise sauerkraut! When I was pregnant my mother-in-law made sauerkraut & polish sausages in the crockpot and I almost vomited just entering the house. It was August, so I spent the rest of the day outside to avoid the smell. I threw up a lot that pregnancy, but that day was a real doozy. NO SAUERKRUAT!

We always have shrimp on New Year's Eve. Usually cocktail shrimp, but sometimes fried or grilled. Not sure why, we just do.

Kristie said...

Renny is the best isnt he? Bringing everyone in the blogging world together! Come back and visit my site about my life in Norway!