Plates are like plane windows.
They reflect a whole world, which differs according to the colours, reliefs and textures you see right in front of you.
A plate is a glimpse of a distant destination. A piece of contrasting, authentic, original landscape. The flavours of food, spices and sauces are all windows to faraway and exotic lands.
Well, I think you will have understood: I love eating.
Eating, for me, is a real escape far from home while sitting quietly in my kitchen.
So, at the dawn of the new year, why not offer your guests a getaway on the other side of the world by preparing them a unique meal?
I invite you to embark with me on a tasteful world tour: I am sure that all our stopovers will give you good recipe ideas to celebrate the New Year’s Eve.
If you prefer to travel solo, I have the right solution for you.
Here we go; our plane is ready for take-off, destination: 7 easy recipe ideas that make you travel on New Year's Eve.
First stopover: made in Japan recipe idea
We are approaching the Japanese coast, but before we do, how about a small aperitif?
I'm not talking about a glass of “sake”: this word is often misused, as it is the translation of the word "alcohol". So it's nothing like what we can imagine when we talk about sake.
No, I was rather going to offer you some umeshu.
It is a plum alcohol, obtained by macerating the fruit in a huge bottle containing sugar.
Between 8° and 15°, you can taste it with a few ice cubes, or cut it with sparkling water.
You are lucky that this delight can be found in most Asian shops!
Recipe idea: the "Osechi Ryori”
This is a typical recipe for the New Year, or more exactly, a set of dishes that are prepared especially to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
By the way, if you are not too convinced by sweet beans, I can assure you that it is a must. Having tasted it during my trip to Japan, I can only recommend that you try this particular flavour.
The interesting thing about Osechi Ryori is that each dish has a specific symbol to start the New Year in the best possible way.
The beans, for example, represent good health and hard work. Chestnuts, because they are golden, symbolise the wealth one wishes to have. As for the lotus roots, they are full of holes (a bit like Emmental cheese...) and thus allow us to look into the future.
I've only mentioned 3 emblematic dishes: now, imagine a table with 15 different dishes like this... Enough to start the New Year with fortune (or a well-filled belly!).
Second stopover: Mexico
I know, these Japanese flavours are really tempting but this is only the beginning of our gourmet getaway.
Here we are already on the outskirts of Mexico and this time, I propose an even sweeter aperitif: how about a good hot cider?
A typical Mexican New Year's drink to warm you up under the breath of winter. Although, frankly, if I could trade our winter temperatures for those of Mexico, I wouldn't be against it...
Are you starting to feel the effects of alcohol? Would you like to rest at a trusted hostess to regain your strength in complete safety?
Recipe idea: "Bacalao"
The tradition of New Year's Eve Bacalao is really old, as it originated in Portugal centuries ago.
This recipe was then exported to many South American destinations. In Mexico, it has become an essential part of New Year's Eve cuisine.
So what exactly composes it? Among other things, cold cod, capers, olives, tomatoes and potatoes. The Mediterranean smells good... Or more precisely, the Atlantic Ocean.
A must that is so ingrained in the culture that an expression bears its name: "El que corta el bacalao" (the one who cuts the bacalao) to designate the person in charge of managing a situation.
And in your country, who will be in charge of cutting the bacalao
on New Year's Eve?
Third stopover: Italy
Well, for the carbon footprint of this culinary adventure, we'll come back.
But how can you resist the call of a little glass of Spritz?
You know, that orange Italian cocktail that you recognise at first glance.
Originally from Veneto, a region in the Italian North-East, this drink combines Prosecco (a sparkling wine from the same region), Aperol (an orange liqueur typical of the area) and a few drops of sparkling water (San Pellegrino to stay local!).
I love this cocktail so much that I know the dosage by heart (in my defence, my grandfather grew up in Veneto, it's in my blood...). The glass should be filled three quarters full with Prosecco to which a small dose of Aperol is poured before adding sparkling water at the top of the glass.
The more orange your glass is, the stronger it will be... You can add a small slice of orange to sweeten your mixture a little.
Recipe idea: the "Cotechino”
Literally, "the little rind".
A popular dish throughout Italy, which is eaten exclusively on New Year's Eve.
It is a smoked pork sausage, accompanied by lentils. And be careful to follow the recipe carefully, because each ingredient has its own meaning!
In fact, pork is a fatty meat that symbolises abundance and prosperity. Lentils, on the other hand, since they are shaped like small coins, have represented wealth since ancient times.
may seem simple, but it will put everyone in agreement.
And if anyone finds anything wrong with it, make them drink a little more Spritz until they agree with you.
You see, there is always an arrangement in Italy...
Fourth stopover: China
We go back to Asia, and with good reason: the Chinese New Year culture is the perfect opportunity to discover exceptional dishes.
But first, here is for you a glass of Baijiu.
It is an alcohol made from sorghum and wheat, traditionally fermented 7 times and distilled more than 8 times, all for 9 months. Oh and, it slightly exceeds 50°... But as my grandmother would say, it is ideal for good digestion!
If you are not tempted, I can offer you a glass of beer, as China is the world's leading producer.
Well, after all these glasses, if you know someone who would be willing to offer a safe accommodation for women… It will be great to rest after such a long journey.
Recipe idea: Chinese ravioli
An elementary part of the Christmas and New Year's Eve cuisine in the north of the country.
Many traditions are associated with it and the symbols vary depending on what is put inside.
Usually, minced meat and finely cut vegetables are used. Boiled, steamed or fried, there is no shortage of ideas for this must-have.
But be careful how you present them...You have to fold them properly, otherwise you risk poverty. Also, if you arrange them in a circle instead of in a line, your karma will be in danger of going round in circles and you will miss out on great opportunities.
In any case, the more you eat, the more likely you are to increase your income during the new year...
So, fill up on Chinese ravioli
: your superior will hardly be able to refuse you your promotion!
Fifth stepover: Ethiopia
We are heading to Africa for this new New Year's stop.
Do you know the T'edj? It's a kind of local mead that you can make yourself, if you find the right ingredients.
This alcohol is made from water, honey and gersho (a plant found in Ethiopia), between 6° and 15°. A bit of sweetness after our previous drink which was perhaps too much...
It is time to eat a good meal to recover.
Recipe idea : the "Doro Wat"
It is undoubtedly the traditional festive dish.
This fragrant stew is literally called "chicken in sauce", and for good reason: it is actually about cooking a whole chicken with a set of other ingredients (lemon, ginger, eggs...).
Hearty and gourmet, it is a meal with original flavours that will be able to feed a large table. Moreover, I'm sure that T'edj goes very well with it...
So, tempted by the Doro Wat
? It's a dish that requires a certain amount of patience: count on 24 hours of rest and many other preparations beforehand if you want to find the most authentic flavours possible.
Friendly tip: enjoy the Ethiopian warmth a little longer... Because our next stage will be snowy.
Sixth stopover: Finland
I warned you... Come on, I offer you a little comfort: Salmiakki.
It is a vodka-based alcohol mixed with liquorice extracts, which gives it a very special taste.
In all sincerity, I'm not a big fan of this national drink... But you have to taste everything before you can make up your mind and who knows, maybe you have a Finn soul hidden deep inside you.
Recipe idea: Rice porridge
Our friends from the North are specialists in indescribable flavours... Because rice porridge is also a local dish that I would find it difficult to describe to you.
What I can tell you, however, is that it is certainly surprising, but frankly delicious.
I remember looking suspiciously at my Finnish friends as they prepared a whole cauldron of rice with milk and cinnamon. However, after tasting it, I couldn't resist it and had three refills.
It's a typical Christmas dish that warms up and smells good with spices. It can make a very good starter, and its recipe is frankly accessible to everyone. Even me, who is not a pro (yes, that's an understatement), I'd like to try it this year.
The tradition is to add an almond: it will bring good luck to whoever finds it on his/her plate...
Seventh stopover: Haiti
That's it, here we are (already!) at our last stopover of this culinary escape.
How about a toast to our superb adventure? For the occasion, I can offer you a delicious Haitian rum cocktail.
Local rum, orange juice and curaçao (a bitter orange liqueur): a perfect drink to get you in the mood for a Caribbean excursion.
All roads lead to Rum, right ?
Recipe idea: "Joumou" soup
is the Haitian New Year Eve’s dish par excellence.
“Giraumon” (a type of pumpkin), beef, vegetables and pasta come to flavour this tasty soup.
A real festive meal, which is particularly important when you consider that New Year's Day in Haiti also coincides with the anniversary of the country's independence.
But what does a soup have to do with national independence day?
Under French colonial rule, Haitian slaves were forbidden to eat soup, a dish that was therefore reserved for the elite.
That's why today, eating a dish of soup represents an act of rebellion and independence for the country.
Cooking this traditional dish for New Year’s Eve therefore allows you to celebrate with the Haitians the liberation of their country.
Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seat belts.
Did you hear that?
Our plane will be landing in a few moments, which gives me just enough time to complete this journey of flavours; but to extend this escapade a little longer, you can snoop among our 9 games for travel lovers.
I think you will have understood: a plate is much more than a meal, because it allows a distant immersion in a few strokes of a fork.
The next time you try a foreign dish, take the time to enjoy it and maybe my culinary plane will come to pick you up for a new trip?
But until then, I hope you will have found the ideal recipe to delight your guests on December 31st.
By the way, don't hesitate to share with us the photo of the dish you've chosen, so that we can all enjoy it together!
It must be said that New Year’s Eve is a special celebration: for one evening, we are all, throughout the world, filled with the same hope that the next months will be happy ones.
So I wish you a happy New Year, good health and, above all, happy dreams.
I would almost have the soul of a poet after a few drinks...