Black-eyed peas for the New Year

It’s an inevitable question from my mother on New Year’s Day: did you eat your black-eyed peas? It’s a southern tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for luck all year. I never really questioned the significance of the tradition, nor did I always ensure that I ate black-eyed peas growing up. This year, I dutifully soaked the peas yesterday and did a little poking around to find out what is it all supposed to mean? According to one source, the swelling of the peas represents prosperity. The typical accompaniment of collard greens and pork means money and positive motion respectively since pigs root forward.

Since we don’t eat pork, we had barbecue seitan with our greens and beans. I added a handful of salt to the beans and some hickory flavored liquid smoke to both the greens and the peas for a real smoky deep-south flavor. Whether or not this meal brings good luck, it was delicious, hearty and healthy—a great way to start off the New Year.

Does your family have any New Year’s meal traditions?