American regional cuisine is peppered with examples of "lucky" New Year's Day foods: ham and black-eyed peas in the South, sauerkraut in the Midwest, a dozen grapes in Puerto Rico.
The Pacific Northwest, however, has largely passed on such traditions. Until now. Believing we can use all the luck we can get in 2012, Willamette Week tapped local culinary anthropologist Ken Rubin, who will open the Portland branch of the Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts in October, to develop our very own lucky New Year's Day dish.
"There are a lot of traditions of lucky foods to eat at the start of the new year," he says. "I wanted something sweet, which is often associated with luck, and something that uses things we have in abundance here."
So here's our own Lucky Bowl, built from beets, kale and lentils. It's vegetarian with an optional meat add-in. ("Perhaps 2012 will usher in a new year where Portland's pork fetish gives way to another food," Rubin says.)
Prepare and consume this meal and you'll live forever, get rich and have lots of sweaty sex. (Or, at least, eat a nice dinner.)
Serves four as an entree
baby golden beets, scrubbed
kale, washed and coarsely chopped
brown lentils, cooked
water or stock
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, simmer beets in salted water for 25-40 minutes or until fork tender. Drain, cool and slough of beet skins. Slice the peeled beets into 1/4-inch rounds and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over a medium flame until it shimmers. Add onion and cook for 2-3 minutes to soften. Add vinegar and stir. Add kale, a few handfuls at a time, and cook until just wilted, 2 minutes or so. Add lentils and pears and fold in to incorporate. Reduce heat to low, gently add sliced beets and water or stock to moisten. Cover and cook for 7-10 minutes to allow kale, pears and beets to incorporate and mingle flavors. Season to taste.
The Squawker: Top with a fried local egg.
The Fat Pig: Use bacon instead of olive oil, rendering the bacon crispy before adding onion.
SATURDAY DEC. 31
[NOSTALGIA] Parker spins a survey of modern dance music, all played from the original LPs except for an MTV segment, with videos from 1980-89. The Woods, 6637 SE Milwaukie Ave., 890-0408,
. 8 pm. $12. 21+.
[DAAANCIN'] Hypnotic house, cheesy electro-pop, nouveau disco and whatever the hell Copy does—this is gonna be the second-best dance party in town, after Talkdemonic. Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St., 239-7639,
. 9 pm. $13. 21+.
[BOW CHICKA] The best rap duo in the world and the best funk band in Portland play the formerly best club in town. Teds, 231 SW Ankeny St.,
. 9 pm. $20. 21+.
[ARTY DANCE] Our 2005 Best New Band survey winner plays with fellow dance duos Deelay Ceelay, which makes its own video projections, and Brainstorm, which is so rockin' it sometimes deploys a tuba. Mission Theater, 16241 NW Glisan St.,
. 9 pm. $16 in advance, $18 day of show. 21+.
[HARDCORE] Tragedy is a real big deal just about everywhere but Portland, the Memphis-born band's adopted hometown. Plan B. 1305 SE 8th Ave. 9 pm. $5. 21+.
[ALL-STAR PARTY] Laura Veirs reprises her annual year-end gig at the LaurelThirst, backed by Nate Query, John Moen, Chris Funk, Jon Neufeld and Annalisa Tornfelt, with guest appearances by Willy Vlautin, Sallie Ford, Ritchie Young, Israel Nebeker and Kevin and Anita Robinson. LaurelThirst Public House, 2958 NE Glisan St., 232-1504,
. 8 pm. $25. 21+.
[RAWK] For the third year running, Weinland and the band's many friends—Ritchie Young, Brian Perez, Eric Johnson and too many others to list—perform killer covers of Heart, Bowie, Van Halen, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Queen, Prince and the like. Guaranteed to be killer. Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St.,
. 9 pm-2 am. 21+. $16 in advance, $18 day of show.
[GAME ON] One ticket gets you unlimisted play on the arcade's 80-some games. 511 NW Couch St.,
. 5 pm-2 am.