December 29, 2017 Turnip Greens, Black-Eyed Peas, Cornbread and Hog Jowl
Yet another year is coming to a close and a new one will begin.
In the south we have a New Year’s tradition of eating turnip greens, black eyed peas and cornbread. While this is not an uncommon meal to us Southerners year-round, it has special meaning on New Year’s Day.
According to folklore, eating black-eyed peas will bring good luck to the eater while the turnip greens and cornbread will bring money.
Black-eyed peas became a symbol of good luck during the Civil War when Union soldiers raided the Confederates’ food supplies and took every edible item from them except the peas and salt pork. The Confederate soldiers considered themselves lucky to have been left with the peas, which enabled them to survive the winter.
Another superstition provides that for every bite of turnip greens (or any kind of greens – mustard, collard, etc.) you eat on New Year’s Day, each of those bites will translate into $1,000 in your pocket during the upcoming year.
Cornbread, because of its golden color, represents pocket change or spending money because the color signifies “gold” or “coin” money, making that another symbol of wealth.
Let’s not forget about hog jowl. We Southerners add this pork product, the “cheek” of the hog, to our dishes to add flavor. But it’s not just the flavor we are pursuing when we consume hog jowl on New Year’s Day. Pigs have long symbolized progress, because a pig cannot look back without completely turning around; hence, the pig is always looking to the future.
While I don’t believe in superstitions, I also don’t believe in pushing my luck, so I keep all of these foods on my New Year’s Day menu. And superstitious or not, by partaking of these delicious dishes I get to enjoy one of my favorite meals of the year.
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