Thursday, January 01, 2009

Hoppin' Who?

What are your New Year's day traditions? Growing up from southern roots, I can tell you mine. Lunch time New Years day sees the table set, the family gathered and HOPPIN' JOHN on the table. At least amongst coastal southerners, it's a South Carolina Low Country practice with African and Carribean beginnings that predates the mid 1800s.

Sadly, eating Hoppin' John was originally considered a symbol of good fortune and thought to bring good luck to everyone back in the day. (I really would prefer that the traditional meal not be rooted in superstition.) Nonetheless, it remains as a connection to a regional and agricultural coastal Carolina heritage.

So, just what is Hoppin' John? Well here's a recipe and a link to an article from the Seattle Times (originally from the Charlotte Observer) that will shed a little light on the matter. Plus, it sets the field peas and rice dish - served with collard greens- in a global context of other "for the sake of prosperity" meal choices from around the globe.

So, eat well, enjoy your meal, and put your confidence wholly in God.

Grace and Peace

-T


HOPPIN' JOHN

From "The Glory of Southern Cooking," by James Villas (Wiley, 2007).

¼ pound slab bacon, cut into ¼-inch cubes

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 pounds black-eyed peas, fresh or frozen

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Red pepper flakes to taste

Hot, cooked rice

3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped

1. Fry the bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Add the onion, celery and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

2. Add the peas, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the peas are tender but not mushy, about 1 hour. (It may take less time for frozen peas, so taste them after 30 minutes.)

3. Drain the peas, then serve over hot rice topped with chopped tomato.

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