Bring Good Luck To The New Year With Black Eyed Peas
I just learned from three different people that eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is a southern tradition to bring good luck and prosperity. According to Wikipedia,
“The traditional meal also features collard, turnip or mustard greens and ham. The peas, since they swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity; the greens symbolize money; the pork, because pigs root forward when foraging, represents positive motion.”
I’ve also read in my newly acquired Christmas gift subscription of La Cucina Italiana cooking magazine about a similar tradition in Italy. Here they eat lentils with cotechino (a pork sausage made with ground pork, pork rinds, fatback and spices) to bring in the New Year for prosperity. The lentils represent upcoming wealth because they are coin shaped and the pig, “an animal that eats while moving forward, symbolizes good luck in the future.”
I happen to find a great looking recipe for Black-Eyed Pea Stew with Sausage in my latest issue of Food & Wine that I adapted for my family. It is easy to make and tastes great for any of you who would like some good fortune in 2010.
The biggest change I made was to add sweet sausage to the recipe that called for hot sausage because I knew my wife and kids wouldn’t eat the hot stuff. In fact, if I make it again, I might just stick with the sweet sausage even though I love spicy food and it’s easy to differentiate the hot and sweet by color.
Of course I’ve heard of black-eyed peas and I’m sure I’ve eaten them when traveling down south but I can’t remember ever cooking with them. They have their signature black spot on a pale, cream-colored outer layer. Originally from India, they came to the United States by way of the West Indies back in the 1600’s.
What I really like about cooking with black-eyed peas is you don’t have to soak them overnight like many other beans I often cook with. This makes it easy to make a soup or a stew like this at a moments notice and not have to resort to canned beans.
Another dish prepared in the South on New Years day is Hoppin’ John, a version of a classic dish of rice and beans served in the Caribbean. It includes black-eyed peas, rice, onion and bacon or fatback. Like the lentil, the black-eyed peas is suppose to symbolize coins. Again according to Wikipedia,
“On the day after New Year’s Day, leftover “Hoppin’ John” is called “Skippin’ Jenny,” and further demonstrates one’s frugality, bringing a hope for a even better chance of prosperity in the New Year.”