How often do we eat things mainly because they are good for us?
Many of us must have chomped our way through childhood trying to swallow green things because they clear the blood and scoffed porridge because it lines the stomach to keep out the cold, had an apple a day to keep the doctor away and limited our intake of chocolate and sweets
There is so much information about what is good for us we just don't know what to believe. It is used to be easy, a little bit of everything, every meal should contain some protein, some carbohydrate a little fat, 2 portions of vegetables and some fruit.
After a conversation about how mushrooms are full of toxins, or flour is made with ash people usually shrug and say we should just eat a little of everything, not too much of anything and variety is the spice of life.
On the first day of the year in Italy the traditional menu makes you glad it only comes round once a year.
It was a great surprise to me in the land of lasagne and spaghetti, but you see it is all about what is good for you and what will bring you luck.
You shouldn't eat chicken because they scratch in such a way that they disperse everything, instead pigs are favoured because they keep things close to them, and lentils, lots and lots of lentils.
Lentils in Italy on the first of January are eaten to bring good luck.
I was asked to take lentils to a New Year's day party.
So I bought a packet of lentils and soaked them overnight.
Next day finely chop a carrot and an onion and cook gently in a small amount of olive oil
Add the drained lentils and stir. Continue cooking over a low heat and then add a small glass of white wine, salt and pepper. Stir again and the add hot water and simmer gently for about 2 hours until they are nice and soft, adding more water if necessary.
My lentils were happily received at the party and used to accompany the cotechino which is a sort of pork sausage, and brings luck. It does not seem to be eaten at any other time of year.
I had made so many lentils that my hostess suggested that I pureed the rest to make a nice creamy soup, which I did, but it looked rather unappealing and so I added olive oil, black pepper and croutons.
Lentils are nutritious and full of iron and potassium and soluble fibre, but tomorrow I think I might make lasagne.
|Start the new year with lentils|
|Lentils are traditionally in Italy to accompany cotechino, along with sauerkraut|
|Simmer gently for two hours|
|Remember to soak the lentils if necessary|