Black-eyed peas and good luck : LUSENET : Unk's Troll-free Private Saloon : One Thread

When I was a child, I remember hearing that eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day would bring you good luck for that year. Even then it wasn't enough to convince me to eat them! ; )

Where did that superstition/myth/old wives tale come from? How did it get started? Anybody know?

On the flip-side, Mr. Pammy loves them. How about recipes? Surely Z, Aunt Bee or somebody has a good one. : )

-- Pammy (, December 30, 2001


I thought it was cabbages

-- (, December 30, 2001.

I didn't know about the "tradition" until I moved to Texas, Pammy. The only good thing, IMO, about it was that one didn't need to eat tons of the stuff to get the presumed good luck. A taste was enough. They taste TERRRIBLE, IMO, and SO has said that he has no interest in having some for New Years. I suspect that falls into the category of "what mom forced me to eat when I was a kid that I hope never to have to eat again."

-- Anita (, December 30, 2001.

I don't know where the tradition started, but the way I heard it, you ate the peas for luck, and you ate greens (we use collards, some people use spinach, mustard or turnip greens) for money. :)

The traditional southern method for doing the dried peas is to soak them in water the night before. The next morning, you drain them. In a large pot or kettle, brown some bacon or country ham for seasoning, then add fresh water and the soaked peas. Add salt, a touch of brown sugar and cinnamon and/or other seasonings to taste; let them cook all day.

(If you like, you can do them "baked" style, too. It's terribly good.)

Lots of southerners like to eat them with ketchup or onion slices on top. If they're made with the right seasonings, I like them straight: I just spoon them onto the plate and go for it. :)

And NOTHING beats stir-fried collards. You clean and separate the collards greens and boil them for about 30 minutes in fresh salted water. Grill some country ham in a large frying pan; drain the greens and excess grease, then put the collards in the pan, stirring them with the ham. :)

OW, it's good. [g]

-- Stephen M. Poole (, December 30, 2001.

Thanks for the info Stephen. You sound like a gen-u-ine Southerner. : )

Here's an article I found:


Conversations Over Coffee

It is once again time to explain to tourists, vacationers and immigrates from Up North why eating black-eyed peas is compulsory Down South on New Year's Day.

Experiencing good luck, i.e., 365 days worth of happiness, prosperity and well being, is the simplest rational for the consumption of black- eyed peas on the first day of the year.

Don't eat them, and it'll be a rotten 2002 for you. A couple of years back a guy I knew, a scoffing newcomer from Up There didn't eat black- eyed peas on New Year's Day. Well, by February his wife had run off with a long-haul trucker, and his son had been fitted with a navel ring that matched the studs in his eyebrows and tongue. You can bet he planned on a black-eyed pea meal to begin the next New Year. It just doesn't pay to defy Mother Nature. Eat those peas.

How they are eaten is of no special concern, but black-eyed peas are a delicacy deserving an imaginative approach. Slow-cooked with hog jowls (or ham hocks, if your supermarket is short on jowls) and then spiced to taste with homemade green and red pepper sauce is one tradition-tested method. Peas, Tabasco sauce and onions is another.

However they're fixed, black-eyed peas should be the core dish of a New Year 's Day meal. The finest accompanying comfort food would be hot cornbread, but only if prepared correctly. Which means using yellow, not white, cornmeal and cooked in a hot cast-iron skillet.

Now we have cornbread and black-eyed peas in a good luck combination as we march eagerly into the new millennium. It's unlikely you've experienced the pleasures of picking and shelling your own peas ("Š on the front porch of a hot summer evening with wisteria flowers perfuming the air and cicadas beginning their night song," as one Southern writer remembered). So buy them by the pound and cook as directed.

For perfect cornbread, you'll need a cast-iron skillet. It's possible to cook mediocre cornbread in those non-stick pans, but they do not create the necessary crisp undercrust. Use a cornbread mix if you like, but an honest cornbread maker will go from scratch. One rule -- no sugar! Only Northern cooks flavor cornbread with sugar, producing something that Southerners ridicule as "Yankee cake."

Heat the oven to the necessary temperature. Coat the skillet with bacon grease and heat it in the oven until it begins to smoke. Then, and only then, pour in the cornbread batter. Hear it sizzle as it seals the bottom crust. Stick it in the oven and bake.

Some people like to cut cornbread squares in half and spread them on a plate. Then they dribble on some pot liquor and cover the bread with black-eyed peas. My favorite way is to break up the bread, cover the bread with peas and pot liquor, cover the peas with chopped white onions, add pepper sauce and sliced fresh tomatoes. Good eating.

Some say the good luck is multiplied if you give black-eyed peas and cornbread to friends and neighbors on New Year's Day. It can't hurt.

Do all this, and good fortune is assured in 2000. Don't eat black- eyed peas, and you'll be cursed. Remember that guy from a couple of years ago, and his bad luck, his vow to eat black-eyed peas the next New Year's Day?

Well, the bad luck followed him throughout the year, and in late December he was in an automobile accident. He was injured just enough to be hospitalized when the New Year rolled around.

He missed eating the peas again. Sure enough, the bad luck continued. First thing that happened was, the long-haul trucker brought his wife back. Eat those peas.


Gary McDonald, a medical practice management consultant, is a regular columnist with The Madison County Journal.

-- Pammy (, December 30, 2001.

And another recipe from the sporting chef:

Our first recipe of 2001! I don’t know how it got started, but someone long ago decided that it is important to eat black-eyed peas first thing on New Year’s Day. It’s supposed to bring good luck. So here’s a recipe that just might tip the scales of fortune your way this year. You may wish to throw an oven-browned duck carcass or two into the pot while the black-eyed peas are cooking for extra flavor. If you want to save some time, you can use either fresh or canned black-eyed peas. Did you know that there are over 7,000 different varieties of black-eyed peas? Do you care?

6 – 8 servings

1 pound dried black-eyed peas

2 quarts water

1 - 2 smoked ham hocks

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoon butter

1 large onion, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

2 medium carrots, diced

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

2 cups duck breast; boneless, skinless and diced into 1/2 inch cubes dash Worcestershire sauce

2 cups tomato, diced (canned or fresh)

*** salt and pepper to taste

*** Tabasco to taste

Combine peas and water in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat and let stand for 1 hour. Bring to a boil again, then reduce heat to simmer. Add ham hocks and salt and cook until peas are tender. Remove hocks, pick meat off and return meat to peas. While peas are simmering, heat the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat and sauté onion, celery, carrots and jalapeño pepper until soft. Add duck and brown evenly. Season with Worcestershire sauce. Add to peas with tomato and heat to warm. Season with salt, pepper and Tabasco. Good luck!

-- Pammy (, December 30, 2001.

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