Originally published on Delish.com
Ever thought that daily cooking would be so much easier if you just didn’t have to think about what to make? (Hello, Friday frozen pizza night.) You aren’t the only one: Folks around the world traditionally eat certain meals on specific days, whether for cultural or religious reasons or simply as a matter of convenience. Read on to learn what people eat when and why. Who knows, you may never have to decide what to make again. (We hope you like beans!)
Monday – Red Beans and Rice
Where: New Orleans, LA
If it's Monday, you can bet there's a pot of red beans and rice simmering on nearly every stovetop across the Crescent City, restaurant and residential alike. Monday was traditionally wash day in New Orleans, and in the time before automatic appliances, people turned to a meal that could be left to cook largely unattended. The tradition persists, even though Maytags to do most of the washing these days. Hey, folks in New Orleans know a good thing when they taste it.
Monday – Frijol con Puerco
Where: Yucatan, Mexico
The ease of making a big pot of beans isn't lost on cooks in the Yucatan, either, especially when Mondays were the days butchers had the freshest pork. Both are slow simmered with pork and spices unique to each cuisine, but unlike New Orleans' signature Monday dish, Frijol con Puerco is made with black beans instead of red kidneys and garnished with radishes, lime, and cilantro. To taste the dish in Mexico, one only needs to pop into one of the many cochina economicas — small, affordable neighborhood restaurants, often found in people's homes.
Wednesday – Spaghetti
Where: Boston, MA
Call it a triumph of advertising, but Bostonians who grew up in the early 70s are bound to crave spaghetti on Wednesdays. Then local to Boston's North End, PRINCE brand pasta ran advertisements featuring the slogan, "Wednesday is PRINCE spaghetti day." And for many, it was.
Thursday – Pea Soup
As the custom goes, Swedes ate ärtsoppa for Thursday dinner — a thick soup made with yellow peas and salted pork and served with a side of grainy mustard — to fortify themselves for Fridays, a day of fasting observed by the country's Roman Catholics. The tradition spread, and you'll still find the hearty dish on Thursday dinner tables throughout the country, whether refraining from meat the next day or not. Ärtsoppa is usually followed by a dessert of pancakes topped with fruit preserves.
Thursday – Gnocci
If you're craving gnocchi, you'll do well to find yourself in Rome on a Thursday night. Restaurants serve the tender potato dumplings that day, known as gnocchi giovedi (or, Thursday gnocchi), traditionally followed by fish on Fridays and tripe on Saturdays. We found no specific origin for the Thursday gnocchi tradition, but surmise that it's a simple but filling food to eat prior to abstaining from meat on Fridays, a practice which many Roman Catholics observe.
Friday – Couscous
If you think couscous cooks in only five minutes, then you haven't had the real deal, which must be steamed and fluffed at least three separate times with an olive oil massage somewhere in between. And such lovingly prepared couscous can be found in homes and restaurants across the country on Fridays, a Muslim day of prayer.
Saturday – Feijoada
If you're a (hungry) carnivore, get ye to Brazil (or a Brazilian restaurant) on a Saturday for a taste of feijoada, widely considered the country's national dish. Packed with beef, sausage, bacon, pork, and beans, feijoada is served with white rice, ground toasted manioc, fresh oranges, and sautéed collard greens or kale.
Saturday – Baked Beans
Where: New England
Yep, beans again, this time with that distinctive savory-sweet tang unique to New England kitchens. This hearty bean dish, flavored with molasses, brown sugar, and dry mustard, dates back to colonial times, when people were forbidden to cook between sundowns Saturday to Sunday. Cooks then devoted Saturdays to baking — beans included — and reheated them for their Sunday midday meal. Though many Northeasterners no longer follow the old Puritan laws, the popularity of this low-maintenance dish persists.
Saturday – Cholent
Where: Wherever Shabbat is observed
Similar to those who followed Puritan Sabbath laws, Ashkenazi Jews who observe the Shabbat do no cooking between sundown Friday and Saturday. But they don't go hungry for Saturday lunch, thanks to cholent, a slow-simmered stew typically comprised of meat, vegetables, and a starch like barley.
Sunday – Sunday Roast
Where: Great Britain
Sunday suppers in England and Ireland mean roasted meat — usually roast beef, but also lamb or chicken — served with roasted or boiled vegetables, potatoes, gravy, and Yorkshire pudding. This filling meal is traditionally enjoyed by the family midday, often after church services.
Sunday – Fried Chicken
Where: Southern U.S.
Down south in the states, you'll also find families gathering for a post-service meal, but often over a pile of crispy fried chicken for a lively and casual dinner.