Looking for good luck in 2011?

A Southern {well, I do live in the south now} New Year's Day food tradition, eating Hoppin' John Black Eyed Peas will not only bring good luck, you might also get rich if it's eaten with collard greens. Hoppin' John is a deliciously spicy bean dish made of black-eyed peas simmered with bacon, sausages or ham hocks, onions, spices and rice.

According to urban legend, it is said for the best good luck of the year, one must eat a bowl of Hoppin' John on New Year's Day. Many devoted Hoppin' John purists go one step further, and at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, they'll toast each other with a glass of Champagne in one hand and a bowl of Hoppin' John Black Eyed Peas in the other.

The peas are symbolic of pennies or coins, and a coin is sometimes added to the pot or left under the dinner bowls. Collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, chard, kale etc. along with this dish are supposed to also add to the wealth since they are the color of money. On the day after New Year's Day, leftover "Hoppin' John" is called "Skippin' Jenny," and further demonstrates one's frugality, bringing a hope for an even better chance of prosperity in the New Year.
During the late Middle Ages, there was a tradition of eating beans on New Year's Day for good luck in parts of France and Spain. The European tradition mixed with an African food item to become a New World tradition.

One tradition common in the Southern USA is that each person at the meal should leave three peas on their plate to assure that the New Year will be filled with Luck, Fortune and Romance. Another tradition holds that counting the number of peas in a serving predicts the amount of luck (or wealth) that the diner will have in the coming year.

Following the good luck theory, if Hoppin' John Black Eyed Peas are served with collard greens, you might even get lucky AND rich! If that's not enough good luck wishful thinking, eating "leftover Hoppin' John becomes "Skippin' Jenny," the day after New Year's Day, and eating it demonstrates powerful frugality, bringing one even better chances of prosperity," reports the Austin Chronicle.

According to Boston University School of Theology Archives, "Eat poor on New Year's, and eat fat the rest of the year," is the best advice going for good luck and prosperity.

The thought that the black-eyed pea is lucky originated in the Jewish Talmud, and evidently some Jewish people settled in the South at one point, and spread their beliefs to the gullible southerners. Speaking of cost, I have always had a sneaking suspicion that the main reason frugal southerners serve them on New Year’s Day is because they’re cheap, filling and good for you…all things you need after going bankrupt for Christmas. Another theory of mine is that eating so much fiber on New Year’s Day helps you eliminate the Holiday Bloat. This works especially well if you don’t each much fiber on regular basis: the cleansing you will receive after eating a bowl of Hoppin John will be epic. If it doesn’t stop after 24 hours, take some Immodium.

Be sure to serve greens with your black-eyed peas, they are supposed to symbolize money. Cornbread is really yummy too, be sure to make it in a seasoned cast-iron skillet for the best flavor.


10 servings.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large ham hock
1 cup onion, chopped
½ cup celery, chopped
½ cup green pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 pound black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
1 quart chicken stock
Bay leaf
1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
Salt, black pepper, and cayenne
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
3 cups steamed white rice


Heat oil in a large soup pot, add the ham hock and sear on all sides for 4 minutes. Add the onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic, cook for 4 minutes. Add the black-eyed peas, stock, bay leaves, thyme, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the peas are creamy and tender, stir occasionally. If the liquid evaporates, add more water or stock. Adjust seasonings, and garnish with green onions. Serve over rice.

AND FINALLY…On New Year's Eve, Daniel was in no shape to drive, so he sensibly left his van in the car park and walked home.  As he was wobbling along, he was stopped by a policeman.  'What are you doing out here at four o'clock in the morning?' asked the police officer.

'I'm on my way to a lecture,' answered Roger.

'And who on earth, in their right mind, is going to give a lecture at this time on New Year's Eve?' enquired the constable sarcastically.

'My wife,' slurred Daniel grimly.