When I opened my eyes in the morning each January 1st during childhood, the first thing the new year brought was a striking aroma. Anyone from central Pennsylvania knows that I’m about to describe the savory and pungent flavors of slow roasting pork nestled in mounds of sauerkraut, traditionally served with a side of creamy mashed potatoes. Deeply rooted in our local culture, this traditional new year meal is definitely one of my favorites!
We can credit the Pennsylvania Dutch, whose ancestors were German, for immigrating to escape religious persecution in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. They settled in central and south central Pennsylvania, now often referred to as Amish Country.
Some folklore suggests pork represents progress because pigs root forward, unlike chickens and turkeys (they scratch backwards). In my own family’s story, sauerkraut promises good luck in the coming year. If you haven’t had the pleasure of enjoying this tangy fermented cabbage, know that it’s an acquired taste. After 29 years, I can say I look forward to sauerkraut on New Year’s Day, but when I was younger, it took some coaxing to take my scoop of good luck!
From a nutritional perspective, pork is packed with protein and is an excellent source of vitamin B6, thiamin, phosphorus, and niacin. Due to the fermentation process, sauerkraut provides probiotics that are beneficial for gut health. However, if you are watching your sodium intake, you’ll want to limit sauerkraut because it contains a significant amount of sodium.
Whether or not you’ll be enjoying traditional German cuisine this January 1st, here’s to progress and good luck in 2019!
Happy New Year!