22 comments on “Food Traditions – Old and New

  1. I was just wondering about the reason behind the black-eyed pea tradition. We have dried peas but didn’t prep them yesterday so we didn’t have them today. And no canned black-eyed peas means we didn’t eat them today. We did, however, have collard greens. Was that part of your grandmother’s tradition? Collards (or maybe mustard greens) on New Years Day is a big deal around here. And instead of black-eyed peas we had baked beans. Will that suffice?

    Happy New Year!

    • I had a head start on the peas. Last year I soaked a whole bag but only cooked half of them. I drained the other half and put them in the freezer. All I had to do this year was take them out of the freezer, run some water over them and then cook them.

      We never did greens but we rarely did any kind of fresh vegetables. I think the point of the Civil War story is black-eyed peas were raised to feed livestock (and, unfortunately, slaves) so the Union Soldiers didn’t take them. The same would be said of greens I suppose so it makes sense.

      Not sure about substituting baked beans. I’d call for a ruling from the international legume review board.

  2. “Because I Say So!” covers a lot from Grannie. I still here her voice today as I suppress the sniffes and think of her cure all for every malady ….. a spoon full of cod liver oil.

  3. Your grandmother does look formidable, I would not cross that women. I am sorry to hear Birthday without cake and then illness etc… I do hope you have now at 19:30 on Jan 1, 2014 opened that or those bottles of champagne and started to get your ration of bubbles. Tell me you did.
    I would love to eat your food, love black eyed peas and pumpkin pie is good I would never think of it as mediocre food.
    And no more illness!

  4. Your G. Keillor quote reminds me why I don’t like that man. How can one disparage a squash so!

    I’ve got a great idea to keep the P Pie tradition alive…..how about P Pie martinins on Turkey Day? Would meet your tradition obligation AND when is an adult beverage NOT a good idea?!

    Then there is Birthday Cake martinis for birthdays.

    Wisely I’d stay away from BEP martinis for New Years however…..

    New Year’s tradition here is BEP(usually in a batch of Hoppin’ John with A LOT of bacon/grease as I don’t care for them & ONLY eat BEPs b/c my mother would come back and haunt me if I didn’t).

    Hubs family tradition is Ravioli on New Year’s…..it’s a Sicilian thing he told me but really it’s because it was one of the few things his mother could cook and his father was 1st generation Italian/American.

    Here’s to much luck to us all in the new year!

    • All ideas with merit. We found some pumpkin spice liqueur a couple years ago we serve at Halloween but it would fill in on any pumpkin related occasion.

      As for birthdays, if I can drink it while sitting (not too) near a candle I figure it counts.

  5. Hoppin’ John! I have friends who eat that stuff every year because it’s “lucky”. Yuck. Black Eyed Peas are horrible.

    Peace ❤

  6. I was told growing up in North Carolina (where I still live) that hog jowls, collards, and black-eyed peas were mandatory. Sounds like soul food that Blacks in the South would have started, especially if they were poor. Black-eyed peas supposedly represented pennies, so you had to eat a lot (and that is fine with me, because I love them, cooked with pork). The collards represent green-backs, so again you would eat a lot to improve your own economy in the new year. So, tonight we had spiral sliced ham, collards, and black-eyed peas. My family has been eating them traditionally for years, and I, too, don’t want any of my forebears coming for a visit.

    No one in my family has ever cared for pumpkin pie. Therefore, we have always substituted sweet potato pie, which is very delicious.

    • I’ve heard about sweet potato pie all my life but never tried it. We eat a lot of sweet potatoes and yams throughout the year I should look up a recipe and make one.

      Your dinner sounds great. Aside from the black-eyed peas (“hoppin’ john”) our New Year’s Day meal was all left overs from New Year’s Eve

      • My Dad ate “black-eyed peas” with corn bread and buttermilk on New Years. Mother would make them for him because it was an east Texas tradition! I like your recipe
        And sweet potato pie is delicious and decadent!

  7. I’d never heard of ‘black-eyed peas’ until Bobbie Gentry’s ‘Ode to Billie Joe’ (and I’m still not 100% sure what they are). But, oh dear, I see that song came out before a lot of blog-readers would even have been born – when I already had a few years working life under my belt. So maybe ‘Eat some black-eyed peas’ ought to be on my ‘Things to do before I die’ list.

    • That is the ‘earworm’ for the day.

      “And papa said to mama as he passed around the black-eyed peas. “Well Billie Joe never had a lick of sense… pass the biscuits please. There’s 5 more acres in the lower 40 I got to plow”. And mama said it was a shame about Billie Joe, anyhow…..”

      And that’s from memory of a song I’m sure I haven’t heard in at least 30 yrs.

      Black-eyed peas are a bland-tasting legume. One buys them dry, soaks them overnight in salt water and then cooks them at low temperature (lest they burst) for a long time. I think of BEPs as the southern equivalent of tofu since they don’t really have much taste on their own. All the traditional recipes are made with added greens, root vegetables and ham or pork. Growing up they were always flavored with a generous amount of bacon fat as well….. from the can that always stood on top of the stove. Fortunately/unfortunately, we don’t eat much bacon so I sacrificed the tradition of seasoning vegetables with bacon fat a long time ago. Pre-cooked black-eyed peas are also available in cans (tins?). As I recall, the canned ones are kind of mushy, however.

  8. Happy New Year to you and Harper’s Other Dad, and to Harper, of course. I’m married to a southerner and, consequently, we also eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day each year. Here in France, we get them in the Portuguese section of the supermarket. They never really caught on in France, but the Portuguese imported them from Africa back in the day. This year, as with many previous, we cooked the beans into a kind of cassoulet with home-made duck confit and some Toulouse sausages. Majorly tasty!

    • Yum! The sausages are an easy-to-understand variation since BEPs are traditionally cooked with pork and seasoned with bacon fat. The duck confit is a wonderful twist, though it would make the process of preparing them even more time consuming. Our regional equivalent for Toulouse sausages would probably be chorizo. I’m going to try to remember that for next year. (Lord knows I never eat them other than at New Year’s.)


  9. Being a “Yankee,” I had heard about the black-eyed pea tradition but never experienced it. We had oyster stew on New Year’s Eve (but my Jewish grandmother never knew… No shellfish!).

    I love Garrison Keeler! But, I’ve had some unbelievably good pumpkin pies.

    • Oyster stew sound much better to me than BEPs. And as a Southern Baptist, I am not bound by any dietary restrictions. (Those of the parts of Leviticus Baptists choose to overlook.) Still, with half a century of tradition in my muscle memory, I suspect I’ll continue the BEPs for the rest of this life on momentum alone.

  10. Your preparation of the BEP, sounds much more palatable than what was eaten while I was growing up. Since moving out, I have not continued the tradition of the BEP on New Years Day, can’t really tell if it has affected my luck or not. I might try one of the ingredients suggested to improve the flavor of the peas, maybe that will get me back to tradition. 🙂 I have had a bad pumpkin pie, I bought it from a popular grocery store here, and it was definitely lacking, but never been disappointed in sweet potato pie. Sweet potato pie is definitely worth trying.

  11. Bill’s family (Georgia) had the black-eyed peas tradition too on New Year’s. Sadly, we don’t have any traditions like that here at Casa Tipton-Kelly. Just another day. 😦

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