Saturday, 31 December 2011

Lentils mean money

An Italian traditional New Year's Eve meal is not complete without a serving of lentils. In fact last night we learned of a dilemma on the local news: 'cenone' (mega dinner) or discothèque? We were amused. People were interviewed in the streets of Cortina and answered earnestly, faces hard. What will we do? Are we doing the right thing? (Cameras swerving from portions of 'zampone e lenticchie' to flashing disco lights over bronzed babes.)

Eating lentils on New Year's Eve ensures that the next year will be full of money, lentils representing riches. Of course every second uncle will lament that he has consumed lentils by the bucketful and failed to increase his bank account. But lentils will always be on the menu. Growing up in Australia I don't remember any tradition other than the campfire down on the rocks by the lake, and the lazy beer-soaked hours ticking by until fireworks sprouted up miles away on the coast. One by one we would trail off to bed.

Tonight, in this mixed-blood household, I'm not sure who is off skiing, or drinking and partying. But I do know that I don't want much fuss. Other years when my kids were younger I used to party hard, way hard. I would tuck in their warm bodies then drive off into the night to a party in an alpine village, hot dancing in a snow-drifted hut, a sweet boy and a drunken sled ride through empty streets; then driving away at dawn under the heave of the mountain.

Is it really going to be 2012? I feel such trepidation before the New Year. Perhaps that it why I used to happily get so drunk. All the things that could happen, that will happen. It makes me feel as doubtful and restrained as ever, hoping for goodness and strength, hoping that it will all hold together, that we will be safe in our beds.


  1. Sled rides at dawn?

    I can't help but think you have it all worked out...Happy New Year!

  2. I use to party hard, too, way back before I had children. I've always felt that if I can survive the gutter, I can survive anything. I'd like to believe the same holds true for you.

    May 2012 be a beautiful and safe one for you.

  3. This is one of the most informative information I've read. It really helps a lot. Thanks for sharing this and teaching some of your Idea's

  4. Hello Schietree,
    The sled ride was bliss! Last night we skied under the stars so not bad either. Hope you had a good one and that 2012 is full of bliss for you. Xxcat

    Dear MSB,
    Yes we were mad, weren't we? I did a lot of wild dancing and suspect my kids have some of those crazy genes inside. I'm trying to be better but still need my secrets!
    Hope 2012 is full of goodness and strength for you too. Xxcat

  5. I have always distrusted New Year's Eve--there must be some voodoo blood in me that assumes something awful will happen on what should be a celebratory day. So I'm happy to report that, once again, catastrophe was averted. We played Guesstures and drank champagne at my sister's house, in slippers and scruffy cardigans, and when midnight rolled around I took my babies home and put them to bed.

    Here's to 2012, Cat, and to seeing you in print.

  6. Thanks Averil, and I hope to read more and more of you! Very glad I found your blog, sometimes I try to imagine you someplace dry, lots of glittery lights, I'd love some more description of your part of the world.

    Yeah the voodoo thing, it creeps in. I sometimes think that most women are tuned into an inner energy, something big that twirls and gulps us down, we are such tigresses, aren't we?

    The very best to you in 2012.

  7. This is beautiful Cat. May it be a happy and safe year.

    ps- I bought my plane tickets yesterday. Will be on the same continent in June.

  8. Oh no! I didn't eat lentils! In fact, I can't remember the last time I ate lentils. No wonder I'm not rolling in hundred dollar bills... ;)

    Happy New Year, darling friend!

  9. That's great Deb, we must meet up. There are lots of things to see in Veneto - from Venice to Verona. I'm around except for a literature festival in Penzance in July and the usual trip to Corsica in August. Seems so far away! Do keep in touch, ciao xcat

  10. I didn't eat them either! And here I am still buying ski stuff I can't afford! Argh! I also just read my year long horoscope that a friend tortures me with every year, and I've already forgotten everything. Love, fortune, success, I dunno!

    But I still think 2012 will be great. Moneyless, but great. Oh well. Big hugs, cat

  11. The memories of Australia sound like an absolute dream of ringing in the New Year, beer-soaked sitting around the campfire? Ahhh, dare to dream. Happy New year, Cat.

  12. I adore lentils and did not know about this Italian tradition. Probably for the best, because otherwise I might feel annoyed that all I get when I eat lentils is a minor case of gas. And with that, I wish you a happy new year!

  13. Dear Lyra,
    Yes, Aussie New Years are pretty good, that coming from a pretty partial Sydney gal. But the quiet of the lake, that is something. Perhaps we lose our rah-rah-rah or va-va-vroom after a few too many in a row?
    I was dreaming of dark water, wind and salt, so different from where we aree now! Trust yours was a joyful one and that 2012 will be full of new satisfaction! Best to you, cat

  14. Hi Laura,
    I also love lentils and used to make a mean lentil soup years ago. But alas I am the major cook in this household (which split up on NYE so much for tradition!) and it wasn't going to happen. But bean soup for all tonight!

    Ciao, wishing you many many book sales and great reviews, cat