Tizi suggests a new menu item for New Year’s Eve. A local tradition in Romagna, her region of Italy. I’m sure I’ve heard the word “lentils” before in Italian and decide to try it out. Use or lose it, right? “But why lentiggini?” I ask.
“For good luck,” she says. “And it’s lenticchie. Lentiggini are freckles.”
Lentils, not freckles.
I don’t think I saw or ate a lentil until I moved to the Detroit area. The Saginaw Valley, where I grew up, was bean country. We were rich in navy beans, ate them year around baked and in soup. Years later, in Arab restaurants through the Detroit area, I made best of friends with lentil soup.
Our good luck lentils are added to a gentle saute of carrot, onion, and celery, then cooked slowly on low heat. Cook them too long and you get mush. Tasty mush, but mush nonetheless. You want to see individual lentils. The lentils resemble ancient Roman coins, so the folklore goes. Eat lentils, make money. I’m down with that.
I’ll add diced tomato to this dish once it’s cooled. Thanks to hydroponic production you can get sweet fresh diced tomato year around, provided you dice them yourself. See this link for mining the red gold.
For years after we got married, on New Year’s day at the end of the meal, the fruit bowl was brought out and we ate grapes. Same thinking. Now it’s lentils, then grapes.