First things first, Happy New Year’s!
Now onto the post. I know it’s a bit of a deviation from the standard but hey, never too late for some cultural education! And if it’s part of your Resolution then I’m helping ya down the right road. (you’re welcome, by the way)
Here in the South, we have a standard New Year’s Meal we consume in order to bring good luck to the year to come. (And after the year we just had we need ALL the luck we can get!) Our in-laws will be providing this meal today (straight from Cracker Barrel but hey, food is food and Cracker Barrel knows a few things about doing homestyle food right!)
The first component of this meal we’ll go over is the black-eyed pea. This humble starchy veg is actually native to Africa and found its way to the deep south via the West Indies. It’s actually a healthy little thing if not prepared with hamhocks, bacon, and fatback. The Black-Eyed pea is full of calcium, folate, and Vitamin A. So the next time you try to justify a big serving of Black-Eyed peas, you can spout those little advantages off to the diet part of your brain and start counting calories and crunches tomorrow.
The history of eating the black eyed peas for luck dates all the way back to the Egyptians and was brought to Georgia via Jewish Tradition. To read more about the history of this tiny veg, click here.
The second component to the meal, greens, be they collard, turnip, mustard, or whatever your preference may be, is typically consumed to aid in the coming of money. This tradition is not as easily traced as even the Wikipedia article needs citation regarding the reference. Allegedly the reference to money doesn’t lie within the color but the shape – the leaves appear to be folded money. The nutritional value of greens is out of the ballpark too – just don’t expect the manner in which they are prepared down here in the South to keep you fit and trim!
Cornbread is also standard fare as is some sort of pork whether it be Roast Pork, Pork Chop, Country Ham, Roasted Ham, or whatever form you prefer your pork to take. There does not seem to be any tradition or superstition in the inclusion of the two of these foods other than the assumption that these were two of the items also not destroyed by Yankee Soldiers during the Civil war as they were thought unfit to eat and thereby allowed Southerners to survive. Don’t quote me on that though.
I was a good little Damned Yankee (that’s a Yankee transplant who moves South and STAYS) today and gobbled up my New Year’s Meal. I then promptly fell asleep, also like a good little Damned Yankee!