Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Black Eyed Peas Say Bite Me

On New Year's Day around here, we eat pork, black-eyed peas and cabbage. 

Eating black-eyed peas (for luck) and some kind of greens (for prosperity), with or without a pork product, is traditional mainly in the southern USA, but also in other places in the country. 

We drop a clean dime into the cabbage pot and whoever gets it has to host the party the next year. People have been known to win the prize, to keep quiet about it, and to slip it back into the pot for somebody else to find. Everybody's generous and self-sacrificing like that.

Photo by nep on Flickr
The tradition of eating black-eyed peas and greens originated during the War Between the States (also known as the Civil War), when raiding Northern soldiers left the black-eyed peas and greens because they considered them unfit for human consumption. On the contrary, they're nutritious and delicious!

Black-eyed peas, a legume and a sub-species of cowpeas, originated in Africa and spread from there to Asia, France, Jamaica and the American south. One of the side-dishes at the Jamaican restaurant I used to go to is "rice and peas", meaning rice and black-eyed peas. The American version of this is called "Hoppin' John" -- nobody is certain why. Whatever you call it, it's good.

Marian Allen

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