Happy New Year
Back once again, loaded with all sorts of citrus fruits, and even a few good intentions. All that will be written about at some other time, since tonight´s the night for grapes.
Whatever else there is for dinner, they´re the one thing that won´t be missing from any table. We eat one for each chime of the clock at midnight. It´s not a very old custom, but it´s firmly rooted, and here´s how it goes.
The clock has to be the one in Puerta del Sol in Madrid. That´s unless you´re in whatever big square with a clock you want elsewhere, live. Most people watch it on TV. Even though we´re late diners in this country, by midnight everyone will have finished, and had a few drinks, and feel a little sluggish, but things get lively as people scramble for position in front of the TV, and slowly count their plates of grapes to make sure there are twelve.
As the clock begins to chime, there´s a confused babble, as everybody shouts that these are just the cuartos, ignore them. This done, the actual twelve begin to sound, and you pop one grape for each. It´s not easy to gobble them up fast enough, and you´re bound to end with at least six in your mouth by the end.
Once swallowed, you then step into the new year with your right foot, and start kissing people and toasting and what not.
In my family, we like to do it standing on our left leg, to make sure that the first step is with the right foot. Making life more interesting, you see. Also, we put a coin in our right shoe, and gold in the champagne. Not materialistic, oh no.
Please note that peeling and de-pipping grapes beforehand is for wimps and small children. Likewise, eating the grapes after the clock has finished.
If you want to take it up, be warned that choking is part of the fun, and that I will in no way be responsible for any harm incurred during frantic back slapping.