Friday, December 30, 2011

Black-eyed Luck

Have you ever wondered how black-eyed peas got tagged "good luck?" It all goes back to the Southern saying, “Eat poor on New Year’s and eat fat the rest of the year.” It could have just as easily been pinto beans or a bowl of grits, but somehow black-eyed peas got the spotlight and forced us pea hating Americans to force feed ourselves on New Year's Day! We don't want to take a chance on a year of bad luck so we eat them cooked with ham, a pot of greens (they represent the green of money), a pan of cornbread and hopefully it will bring good luck and prosperity for the year! I grew up eating this meal, but after I married the tradition faded and we usually had gumbo or a pot of chili to go along with the games on TV.

There's actually several ways to "eat lucky." In Asian countries, the long noodle promises a long life. The trick is not breaking the noodle before it's all in your mouth! In Germany, cabbage is associated with luck and fortune because it's green and resembles money.The lowly lentil looks like little coins and are eaten throughout Italy for good fortune in the New Year. People in Turkey and other Mediterranean countries eat pomegranates, which have long been associated with abundance and fertility. Think I'll stay away from that one!

In our family we have pork and chicken is off the menu that one day. The reason is that a pig "roots forward" and a chicken "scratches backwards." All scientific, you understand. I am a bit superstitious, probably inherited from my Mom. The ones that stand out in my mind are not opening an umbrella in the house, not stepping on a crack and definitely not walking under a ladder. She warned on such occasions that it was "bad luck" and I took her at her word! She also believed it was a bad idea to go back to the house for something after we'd left. Not sure about that one, but it would happen like this... on weekends we went to the grandparents, she would have the bags packed and as soon as Daddy got off work we'd head to Arkansas. A few miles down the road someone invariably would say...

 "Did you get the _______?"

That set off a discussion of why we shouldn't go back, did we really need the  ________?

If it was deemed necessary, Mom would count backwards from 10 to erase the "bad luck." Really!

Someday soon, when I'm snowbound, I'll GOOGLE all these old superstitions and see just where they came from! Just in case you want to have that little insurance policy in the form of a pot of black-eyed peas, here's an easy recipe:

Black-eyed Peas with Salt Pork PRINT RECIPE
1 lb frozen black-eyed peas
4 oz (1/4 lb) salt pork or bacon, diced why salt pork?cause it's Southern-licious!
1-2 jalapenos, sliced or minced
1 small tomato, diced

Fry the salt pork or bacon in a pot until some of the fat is rendered and it’s starting to crisp up. Then add the peas and stir them around to coat in grease. Don't be afraid, the good luck cancels out the calories! Add the jalapeno and tomato and enough water to just cover the peas. Put a lid on the pot, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer for about 30-45 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper and a little more hot sauce if you like it spicy. Don't forget a good chunk of buttered cornbread! Makes 6 servings.

One more recipe, this one's a keeper!

Recipe for a Happy New Year

Take twelve fine, full-grown months; see that these are thoroughly free from old memories of bitterness, rancor and hate, cleanse them completely from every clinging spite; pick off all specks of pettiness and littleness; in short, see that these months are freed from all the past—have them fresh and clean as when they first came from the great storehouse of Time.

Cut these months into thirty or thirty-one equal parts. Do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time (so many persons spoil the entire lot this way) but prepare one day at a time.

Into each day put equal parts of faith, patience, courage, work (some people omit this ingredient and so spoil the flavor of the rest), hope, fidelity, liberality, kindness, prayer, meditation, rest (leaving this out is like leaving the oil out of the salad dressing—don't do it), and one well-selected resolution.

Put in about one teaspoonful of good spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly, a sprinkling of play, and a heaping cupful of good humor.


  1. Good morning Joyce. I so enjoyed your post today. Some of these things I have heard, some were new to me. We were always told not to sweep or do laundry on New Year's Day as you would sweep somene from your family, or wash away your luck. Also a man wss suppose to be the first vistor to enter your door. I am not sure what that one meant, but as long as my Daddy was alive, he would come over early and make sure he was he first to enter. I am sorry but I can't force myself to eat peas. But I do eat greens. Hoping you and your family have a blessed , happy and propersous New Year.

  2. BEPs taste like dirt, so yes, they are perfect for 'eating poor'. :) i love your mom's superstitions - the going back for something and counting backwards are new ones to me. and the pork not chicken is a great one, too! had not heard of that!

  3. And I love black-eyed peas ...cow peas was what one of my grandmothers called them. She said they were only fit for cows to eat. But seasoned and cooked up right, I think they're great! I will try your recipe with bacon, jalapenos and tomatoes, Joycee ...sounds delicious!

    Wishing you and your family a blessed and happy New Year!

    : )

  4. "only fit for cows to eat" Hoss Boss that is so funny! I agree, they DO taste like dirt! But if you have 1 teency weency serving, a slice of ham and big chunk of cornbread--I can do it for good luck!

  5. So funny!
    You always come up with the neatest
    things to share. We were told to eat black-eyed peas and rice when we were in OK one year for good luck. I know I sure love the "Black-Eyed Pea' restaurant!
    It's been great visiting you this past year, Joycee! Have a great 2012!

  6. I always tend to leave some of the ingredients out of the recipe for a Happy New Year and screw up the whole thing! I really need to work on perfecting it.

    We WILL be having ham, black-eyed peas, cabbage and corn bread, like always!

  7. Oh man, now when I make the black eyed peas all I'm going to think is that they taste like dirt!!

  8. I love that recipe for a Happy Year.
    Black Eyed Peas? I've never tasted them, and I think I may be happy not to have that tradition. Ours is that a dark haired man must be the first across the threshold on January 1st, and he must be given a drink. We'll have to enlist our future SIL to come over and 'first foot' at our place.

  9. Foreget the black eyed pease, Joycee, I'll take the recipe for the New Year!...:)JP

  10. I really like the recipe for a Happy New Year.

    I remember: Never cross the path of a black cat. Don't walk under a ladder. My mom was somewhat superstitious.

    I like BEP's and we have them every New Year. This year I'll be making Indian Tacos and BEP's with cornbread.

    Wishing you a very Happy New Year.


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