If It’s the New Year, it Must Be Lentils

When I first started to experience the illuminating relationship between what I ate and how I felt, lentils became my first new friend, with brown rice a close second. At the time, I did my writing at a place called The Writers Room, an “urban writers colony,” in the Village in New York City. I would spend all day there and grab lunch at a health food deli across the street. Brown rice and lentils. Every day. Same thing. I loved it. It’s the Italian tradition to eat lentils on New Years Eve and I wrote about in detail here. Lentils, the bean eaters say, resemble tiny coins, so ingesting them at midnight as the one year moves into the next is supposed to bring prosperity in the year to come. Far fetched, I know, but what’s the harm in trying? The wild rice in this version brings a great chewy element to the lentils, plus it makes it go further. Plus I just wrote a book on grainbowls so, yeah. There’s that. Here's to eating well and, if it just so happens, getting rich.   & ...

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And in honor of great new beginnings, the best darned holiday food I know: Lentils, redux. I'm not superstitious, but I do appreciate when certain superstitions give me an excuse to do something I want to do anyway. In Italy, lentils, called lenticchie (pronounced "len-TEA-ki-yay") are traditionally eaten for New Year because they are supposed to bring prosperity to the eater. The reasoning being that the little legumes are vaguely reminiscent of teeny tiny coins so by eating them, you will be showered with money. Which is why every year when the new year comes around, thinking my friends and I could use a little prosperity ourselves, I invite, I make as big a pot of them as I can. I start with Umbrian Lentils, which grow in and around a town called Castelluccio, in Umbria. Smaller than traditional brown lentils, Umbrian lentils come in various shades of brown and are known for their tender skin and rich, slightly sweet flavor. You'll have to get them at a specialty food store and ...

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I'm not superstitious, but I do appreciate when certain superstitions give me an excuse to do something I want to do anyway. In Italy, lentils, called lenticchie (pronounced "len-TEA-ki-yay") are traditionally eaten for New Year because they are supposed to bring prosperity to the eater. The reasoning being that the little legumes are vaguely reminiscent of teeny tiny coins so by eating them, you will be showered with money. (Makes perfect sense, if you like lentils.) Which is why, when 2012 rolled around, thinking my friends and I could use a little prosperity ourselves, I invited a few over on a sunny January first, and decided to give the experiment a go. I started with Umbrian Lentils, which grow in and around a town called Castelluccio, in Umbria. Lenticchie di Castelluccio, like the more widely known French Lentils du Puy, are granted IGT (protected geographical indication) status, which means in order to bear the name Castelluccio, they have to be grown in that particular regio ...

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Standing in Line for Corn Anyone who says there are no seasons in Southern California has never been to Chino Ranch in the summertime. I stopped by the farm today--after a morning hike on the secret horse trails of Rancho Santa Fe that, along with a lifetime of free firewood and a covenant that insures your neighbor can never build a McMansion on his land, is one of the perks of living in this precious place, and found the parking lot spilling over and a long line outside the stand. Everything the Chinos grow is divine--including, at this time of year, melons of all kinds, green beans that Alice Waters famously declared tasted just like green beans when she discovered them (the beans and the Chino family) in 1972, and the most glorious tomatoes of every shape and color imaginable. But the line is for the Chino's famous corn. They grow yellow and white (I don't know the names, though I should) and sell it by the half dozen or dozen, and fans of the corn line up before the stand opens i ...

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