Monday, 31 December 2012

Los doce uvas de la suerte - a grape escapade


     My 12 Lucky Grapes on sticks

Oh the fun and quirky customs that people all over the world are under obligation to engage in every New Year.Just a few of the little pleasures that we are forced to enjoy at this time of year.In Italy on New Year’s Eve there must be a plate of lentils and in Portugal dishes with salt cod are served to bring good luck in the New Year.However, across the river from here In Spain the special tradition is to eat 12 grapes in 12 seconds as the clock bells mark the final twelve hours of the year! Heavens to murgatroyd!!!
This is an 'ancient' tradition(1895), (Las doce uvas de la suerte, "The twelve grapes of luck") revived and consolidated by some shrewd Alicantese farmers about 100 years ago when they were left with too many grapes after the harvest.You have to eat twelve grapes on the twelve bongs of midnight.This sounds like a fun ritual, but surely spoiled by the fact that it is impossible to buy seedless grapes in Spain....

Dont worry some brilliant entrepreneur has now marketed tins exclusively for this occasion.Each one containins just 12 seedless grapes, so in the event that your New Years Eve host hasn´t pipped you at the grape post, all you need to do is buy one of these and take it to your party.Failing all this, when you get the rush to chomp down the dozen grapes,you will be amongst a lot of partygoers biting into some raisins while raising a glass of champagne and pulling a silly face.
If I lived in Spain, I could see the following scenario happening in my house.Just before 12 we would all be scrabbling around like blue arsed flies hastily trying to separate 96 or more grapes from their bunches and dividing them amongst individual bowls or glasses in time for the countdown, Oh lorks you have to de-seed them too,even more pressure. I am sure a lot of people subjected to this inane parlour game would be caught cheating.

So here goes, everyone counts down to the new year from 12 seconds, and every second you put another grape into your mouth. The goal is to have eaten all of them by the time the clock strikes midnight. Surely this sounds easier than it is. Eating 12 plump grapes in 12 seconds is quite a feat. And if you can't fit all of the grapes into your mouth, you will have bad luck for the next year.Instead of giving up this is what I would do........prepare enough grapes for the number of guests you are inviting and then thread them in twelves onto skewers ready for the bongs,(see picture above)-

A word of advice: apparently in Spain there are four higher-pitched introductory chimes just before the main ones at midnight (known as 'los cuatros') that announce the start of the real ones - make sure you don't start eating your grapes too soon. It catches people out each year - one year a television presenter made the fatal error!But for every grape you get right, you will get a month's good luck.

I hope you can take a minute from all the tippling, dipping, and dunking of the season to think about what you learned this year.
In the meantime,here's to a healthy,prosperous,incandescent and delicious 2013!!!
Raising a glass to you and yours
Cheers,
O cozinheiro

1 comment:

  1. Happy New Year to you both !
    Haha...you cannot imagine P's horror at being presented with raisins one NY eve...he still goes on about it to this day...he takes charge of the countdown and the chimes and instructs us at which point we may introduce a grape into our mouths ( and invariable choke ,in my case,as I get the giggles and end up with cheeks stuffed with all 12 ) No, a NY without grapes is truly catastrophic in Spain. xx

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