Twelve Grapes {Nochevieja}

hunter, new york
In Spain, revelers bring in the New Year by stuffing 12 grapes into their mouth, one for each of the 12 chimes that sound at midnight from the bell in the town square as the next year begins. It’s folklore that either started as a way to boost grape sales in the bountiful harvest year of 1909, or a way to mock the nobles who consumed their grapes as cava. The gut-laughter it induces is followed by chubby cheeked kisses, bidding the previous year adios. The custom is topped only by the feasts of fish and seafood, capon or lamb for which a Spanish family will spare no expense to mark the year’s end.
In the village of Hunter, New York, two Spaniards, two Americans, one Hungarian and a baby {half Spanish, half American} brought in the New Year with 12 grapes, bad champagne and Martinelli’s sparkling cider around a roaring fireplace at the local inn. Our feast was a mix of Turrón blando {Spanish almond candy} and home-cured pork lomo, courtesy of the Spaniards’ abuela {grandmother}, and Peanut Butter Pandemonium ice cream picked up at the Stewart’s where we made a pit stop on our way into town.
In Spain, families dress to the nines in their own home, sparing no detail of their lavish celebration. At the Hunter Inn, where we hosted our fiesta after a roll in the snow and dunk in the hot tub, attire was pj’s and pearls, inspired by the last minute whimsy of one American who never travels without cocktail jewels and faux furs.
One day, I would love to spend New Year’s in Spain. Until I do, I want to spend every New Years from here to eternity in pearls and pajamas, drinking Martinelli’s cider, stuffing my face with grapes and getting ridiculous with friends whose love knows no pretense.
By the way, that is the baby, Lola, who only looks like her cheeks are stuffed with grapes. She was asleep for the grape stuffing, pjs and pearls, but I'm pretty sure she's cuter than the rest of us. Plus, András says my pj pictures are too skimpy to post here.


Frances said...


Happy Happy, sweet girl!

Lola is freakishly adorable.

alasandy said...

Sounds like a smashing New Year! I too, would love to spend NYE in Spain one day! Great meeting you, Twitter friend!

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Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.