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New Years Eve food memories? [moved from Great Lakes]

I'm wondering about everyone's childhood food memories from New Year's Eve. What did your family always have that night?

Also, please post where you grew up and if your food tradition was part of your ethnic background.

Do you have a new food necessity for New Year's Eve now?

In SE Wisconsin, I grew up with little rye breads topped with raw ground round, lots of onions and plenty of black pepper. We also had it on Christmas Eve at large family gatherings. My only requirement at NYE now is champagne.

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  1. My memories of NYE don't come from childhood, but from my teens. My parents started to get a lobster for each of us if we were going to be home for dinner. Smart woman...

    1. I can honestly say we had not one NYE food tradition. I am Italian-American and grew up in Jersey City, NJ. I know there are a lot of Italian and Italian-American NYE food traditions, but I really do not think we did any of them. Easter, Christmas and Thanksgiving, yes. Tons of them. NYE, none.

      1. Oh hell yes... Smallish city in Western NY, Rochester...As a child, the tradition was my parents and siblings going to a somewhat-fancier Chinese restaurant downtown in the city. I'd get a chicken and vegetable dish that tasted like the best thing ever at the time (probably still would, unfortunately the restaurant has long been closed.) I'd also get a Shirley Temple with a cherry on either a fancy toothpick or an umbrella!! This still excites me. Then we'd come home, watch the Dick Clark ruckus, and have ice cream sundaes with bananas, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, peanuts, and yes, more maraschino cherries. Also us kids would have that sparkling grape juice stuff that's in the champagne bottles. That stuff is delicious! Okay, I'd be lying if I said I don't want to retreat back to my childhood New Year's Eves.

        1. I am dating myself but growing up NYE was never about the kids, it was an adult affair. If my parents has a party at home we were regulated to basement playroom or if they went out we had a sitter and the very rare TV dinner.

          As a teen I baby sat other peoples kids so they go out. I ate whatever they had on hand and listened to the top 100 countdown.

          1. As a child in the early-to-mid 1970s in San Diego, New Year's Eve was a "grown up" holiday. My mother would pack us a box dinner (sorry cannot remember the food), complete with hats and noise makers, then do her make up, and leave us with a sitter, while she and my father went to Bali Hai.

            I remember watching Dick Clark. Trying to stay up til midnight.

            On New Year's Day morning we would watch the Rose Parade on TV and go out for breakfast. Usually at someplace like The Kettle.

            1. Growing up (San Francisco Bay Area) not a thing special for new years or new year's eve. There was a neighborhood party most years and the adults drank champagne. We stayed home with the baby sitter who showed up after dinner.

              I live in Hawaii now, and people do tend to have traditional dishes, the most popular is top grade sashimi or poke, but especially sashimi. The price of fish about triples. And new year's eve here is not about going to clubs and such, the vast majority of residents here are with family or close friends eating mountains of food. Christmas all over again, but with fireworks. Gotta have fireworks for New Year's.

              1. When Y2K was upon us and the world as we knew was coming to an end... BIL to work NYE... major computer guy with a big company... and he got paid VERY WELL for the time.

                Niece was only about 3, so they weren't planning any BIG wild night anyway. SIL decided to throw a "slumber party". She had a few "rules"! You had to show up in PJs or other sleepwear. Food you brought could NOT be typical party snacks... no onion dip (sour cream and packet of dry soup mix)... no cheese tray (everyday block cheese & mustard).

                I had a gift card to a seafood place and came with a big tray of crab claws. NOT a big fan of liver, but made a Martha S pate recipe (had apples in it) that was a BIG (surprise) hit! Made escargot in a pretty deadly butter/garlic/lemon sauce.
                At midnight, we went out on her deck where we had a decent view of the fireworks in Philly!

                1. After the guests started arriving, we kids were relegated to the upstairs bedroom or the basement rec room. Before that we could sample anything we wanted.

                  My mother always made a dish which consisted of a long loaf of sandwich bread cut lengthwise (i.e., from the top to the bottom of the loaf). There were about five sideways "layers" to this loaf. Each layer was spread with a homemade sandwich filling, such as egg salad, ham salad, cheddar cheese spread ( Kraft's Old Taverne--yes, with an "e" on the end--with a little milk added to make it more spreadable), shrimp salad, chicken salad, cream cheese with worcestershire sauce, garlic powder and walnuts, Kraft pimento spread, Kraft olive and cheese spread, etc. Then the whole thing was covered with a thin layer of cream cheese. Then it was refrigerated overnight. When you sliced this creation in three quarters of an inch slices, you had a slice of striated white bread and filling. It was delicious.

                  My father made homemade eggnog, which consisted of RAW egg yolks (no one ever got sick), cream, milk, and sugar. Then he whipped something--I think it was the egg whites (a merengue?)--and folded it into the eggnog mixture. There were two silver, or sometimes cut glass, punch bowls with a lot of the whipped mixture rising to the surface, covered over a bit with the eggnog mixture. The foamy stuff separated from the eggnog mixture over the course of the night, so that you got a glass of eggnog with frothy stuff on top. One was labeled "alcoholic" and one was labeled "non-alcoholic." The alcoholic disappeared about twice as fast as the non-alcoholic. I think my father used dark rum.

                  There were lots of other foods and memories from the New Year's Eve party, but this is what I remember best.

                  1. It was also about the adults here (NYC boroughs, Italian/Polish family). But we kids were allowed to have ginger ale in champagne glasses for New Years for the midnight toast.

                    Now that I am grown and married, DH and I like to stay in on NYE with a nice appetizing spread and watch the Honeymooners on our local channel 11. Bang, zoom, to the moon Alice!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: iluvcookies

                      I agree, iluvcookies! NYE and The Honeymooners...it's the only way to fly!

                      1. re: ttoommyy

                        Oh, yes. I often think that Norton would love our spread from Zabar's... and if we could get Lobster Cantonese from the Hong Kong Garden, we would!

                    2. My mom always used to make this layered seafood dip for New Years- whipped cream cheese and green onion base, cocktail sauce with chopped shrimp on top. Miss that stuff.

                      The evening was chock full of eating all kinds of junk- too bad 2/3 of the crew now have cardiovascular issues.

                      The people that always hosted New Years had an indoor pool-which was a blast for Winnipeg in Dec/Jan.

                      1. I was a child of the 70's too, and my parents always went to a black tie party. Used to love watching mom get all dressed up. My mom always made us a special meat fondue though prior to the babysitter coming. Loved it, especially the sauces. ( now I will be dreaming of saucy Susan)

                        1. I grew up in Pittsburgh in an Irish, German and Hungarian family and am slightly over 30. I drink whisky, wine, beer, champagne and coffee on new years eve and have since I was 15 or 16. Every NYE my mom would make roast pork, kielbasa, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. She puts ketchup on every element in her dish. I think it looks disgusting and have never taken the plunge, but apparently her mom and dad did the same.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: MonMauler

                            Growing up in Bermuda in the 50s and 60s the whole Christmas/New Year's season kind of blurs in my memories, there were lots of house parties, everyone's kids were there and we were free to run around inside and outside - I vaguely remember that onion dip.

                            What I remember more than New Year's Eve was the split pea soup with chunks of smoked ham hock served with baking powder biscuits on New Year's Day at my house. Other houses we visited had Portuguese red bean soup. Yum to both.