Yesterday we had black eyed peas and collard greens, a traditional Southern meal on the first day of the year.  It’s supposed to bring prosperity and good fortune.  Does it work?  I don’t know.  It could have been worse if we hadn’t eaten it in past years.

I have heard the explanation for this humble meal being one of Civil War privation.  For many Southerners this was all that was left after Union troops came through and requisitioned everything else.  Typically, the collards are seasoned with a ham bone or a piece of salt pork.  We had friends over and had a well seasoned tenderloin on the side. 

As we wee eating I thought of two people; one of our granddaughters who loves her grandmother’s Southern cooking, and usually begs a meal when we are together, and Wendy, an ex-patriot Brit with whom we used to occasionally visit.  Wendy is in a retirement home now.  Se was in her early teens when the war in Europe came to England.  She drove supplies in a lorry.  Her brothers were fighter pilots, and both were shot down and died during the war.

I once told Wendy that my mother fixed Brussels Sprouts once a week.  She cooked them with a little butter and probably salt and pepper.  The were strong tasting and I wasn’t a fan.  She shamed us into eating them by telling us that the British survived on Bussells Sprouts during WWII.  Wend said, “Rubbish.  We survived on rabbits.  A man came through every week selling rabbits door-to-door.  It was the only meat we had.  Everything else went to the war effort.  Rabbits then, and perhaps still, were considered an agricultural pest.  The bunnies in England (called conies) burrow creating hazards for livestock and destroy a lot of garden crops.

We saw Wendy at our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and at the liquor store where she purchased her only alcoholic beverage, an Irish Whisky, Tullamore Dew.  I need to go by and see Wendy.  I’ve put it off.  I don’t know whether she just got too infirm to care for herself or what. She has to be in her late 80s now. I’ve dreaded seeing her if she is really compromised.  She has always been a breath of fresh air.

L tells me that the Civil War history of black eyed peas is a fable, that it was really pushed by some Texan who succeeded in getting everyone in the South to eat them on New years Day in he 20th Century.  Some accounts of the meal tell of collards and black eyed peas being ‘soul food’ shared by emancipated slaves, or that it was all that emancipated slaves ha to eat). Who really knows?

The real message is that many meals are eaten in memory of hard times with hopes for better days.  It helps that L is a really good cook who could make almost anything palatable.  No one has ever turned up their nose at her collard greens.  Wanda, a woman we met from the Eastern part of North Carolina taught us how to prepar and cook collards. 

Happy New Year, y’all. health, happiness and prosperity to all in 2019.

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Comment by Tom Cordle on January 2, 2019 at 6:26pm

We usually partake of that traditional fare, though ours is tiny pieces of ham mixed with black-eyed peas. I kinda like black-eyed peas, but you can keep the collard greens –  bleeeech! There's nothing you can do or add to make that stuff taste good.

Comment by Rodney Roe on January 2, 2019 at 6:39pm

Tom, you haven’t had my wife’s. Done poorly they are awful.

Comment by Tom Cordle on January 2, 2019 at 7:11pm

I'll take your world for it. ;-)

Comment by Anna Herrington on January 2, 2019 at 7:20pm

How nice to stop by and see this - happy new year!  I make it every year, only recently heard Hoppin John as a name for what I've always called black eyed peas and greens. I make a vegetarian version every year, but decided awhile back if I get to it the first week of the year, it's all good. (There's so many January birthdays in our family we just squeeze it in around them - no one wants it for their birthday dinner. ha!) But the way I make it, too, seems to have everyone liking it.

The whole country could use some good luck this year! (but I'm not an Impeach Trump fan, with Pence there lurking to take and keep power for possibly much longer...) Just hobble the guy in a padded room, maybe.

Cheers to a better year ~

Comment by Ron Powell on January 2, 2019 at 7:56pm

"Yesterday we had black eyed peas and collard greens, a traditional Southern meal on the first day of the year.  It’s supposed to bring prosperity and good fortune.  Does it work?"

Did it work for the slaves who initiated the tradition....?!

Just look at the menu and how it's prepared....

Paula Dean couldn't have done a better job of coopting and plagiarizing...

"Typically, the collards are seasoned with a ham bone or a piece of salt pork."

That's the give away....

Hambones and salt pork were leftovers from the kitchens in the plantation South...

Emancipated black people simply continued to prepare and consume what they were permitted to eat while still in chains and shackles..

Comment by Ron Powell on January 2, 2019 at 8:07pm

In case anyone wishes to challeng my previous comment:

“I think when we’re eating peas and greens on New Year's Day, we’re actually doing something that is fundamentally southern, but we’re perpetuating a practice that is ultimately embedded in the culture of slavery," he said.

“For more white families through to the late 20th century, African-Americans would be performing the essential food labor and so this transmits from African-American families to white families and it makes even more sense as it transmits from African-American to white families that the connection to slavery becomes downplayed and eventually lost," said Davis.

From

WHERE DID THE TRADITION OF EATING BLACK-EYED PEAS AND COLLARDS ON NEW YEAR'S DAY START?

Black-eyed peas and collard greens are a symbol of good luck

Author: Amyre Makupson

Published: 01/01/19

www.13wmaz.com/amp/article%3fsection=life&subsection=food&t..." target="_blank">https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.13wmaz.com/amp/article%3fsection=life&subsection=food&t...

Comment by Anna Herrington on January 2, 2019 at 8:14pm

As I typed Hoppin John I found myself wondering if there wasn't a nefarious tradition in the background...

Of course.

Thanks for the information, Ron.

Comment by Ron Powell on January 2, 2019 at 8:29pm

"Some accounts of the meal tell of collards and black eyed peas being ‘soul food’ shared by emancipated slaves, or that it was all that emancipated slaves ha to eat). Who really knows?"

Typical of a white privilege white wash is to declare a mystery or feign ignorance when the existential truth and historical fact are at odds with a "preferred" if not "alternative" reality.

Correction re link to article:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=undefined&cd=&ve...

Comment by Anna Herrington on January 2, 2019 at 8:33pm

...and now the dish is still served each year by people all over the country in all kinds of races and households.

Is that evolvement to something better or everyone ought to stop eating it?

Comment by Anna Herrington on January 2, 2019 at 8:39pm

I asked because I'm interested in your opinion.

Regardless of answer, certainly the origins ought to be known.

Have a good evening.

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