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Eat yer beans


I stole the picture and the link from rdbrewer at Ace‘s. The link goes to a vidya of some grandma and a gay guy discussing why Southerners traditionally eat black eyed peas on New Year’s Day. Some bullshit thing about Sherman’s March to the Sea. Never heard it before. Article doesn’t even know it’s “collard” not “collared” greens, so I wouldn’t pay it much mind.

My grandfather — my mother’s father — was absolutely insistent on eating blackeyed peas on New Year’s ‘for luck.’ Never missed. He even had them specially brought to him in the hospital before he died.

Then he died. How lucky can they be?

My mother mailed me a can of beans at Christmas every year for years and years so I’d be ready. They ended up collecting in the back of my canned goods cabinet. I freaking hate blackeyed peas. Nasty, waxy, tasteless little bastards.

Happy, happy y’all. Hope nobody’s too dreadful hungover.


Comment from mojo
Time: January 1, 2016, 8:05 pm

“White Trash” food, black-eyed peas, collard greens, cornbread, ham hock. Cheap, the peas and collard are cattle feed, corn meal dead cheap, etc.

Mah peepuls.

Comment from mojo
Time: January 1, 2016, 8:13 pm

BTW: ever see “O Brother, Where Art Thou”?

Excellent film, great soundtrack.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 1, 2016, 8:38 pm

Great soundtrack, but I couldn’t disagree more about the film. I thought it was shitty and mean-spirited. The Coen brothers do best when they have some affection for their subjects. O Brother reeked of contempt.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: January 1, 2016, 9:30 pm

My mother fed us red beans and rice a couple of times, once on NY. Not sure if same tradition. Hated them. But like most foods I detested as a child, I now crave them.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 1, 2016, 9:36 pm

No, they taste totally different. Red beans and rice were a Louisiana staple. You could get a serving at the lunch counter of the drug store in New Orleans for a nickel.

I don’t know why I remember that, but I crave them sometimes, too.

Blackeyed peas are kind of waxy and flavorless, so they get cooked for a very long time with a chunk of some kind of pork fat. I mean, most beans are in the South, but blackeyed peas need it more than the others…

Comment from Armybrat
Time: January 1, 2016, 9:46 pm

My parents are yankees from the Pittsburgh area. As a military brat, I grew up in Europe, Dixie and Texas. My mama is an amazing cook and learned the southern tradition of black-eyed peas for New Years. I’m with you sweasel, I can’t stand them. Even my mama couldn’t make them appealing to me. And all of my siblings LOVE them and have sent me pics of their pots of cooking peas today. They know I can’t stand them. Nothing says love like torturing your family!

Comment from J.S.Bridges
Time: January 1, 2016, 10:38 pm

Try some Carolina caviar – might change your mind, ‘specially if made with sliced-up olives and crumbled-up crispy bacon…everything’s better with bacon, y’all.

As “stand-alone” foodstuffs, admittedly, black-eyed peas (which are, actually, a type of beans , not peas at all) are not all that much. They lend a pretty good texture and a useful amount of nutrition to some combo-foods, though. Some stuff called “Hoppin’ John” might be worth looking into, as well…

Lotta us Southern folks eat cornbread and black-eyed peas (and ham-hocks, too, sometimes) ’round New Years because tradition says it’s good luck to do that – the real reason why that tradition came about is…uncertain, at best. Pretty unlikely it’s got anything to do with ol’ Devil Sherman or his nasty March (Of Destruction) to The Sea, though – wasn’t anything “good luck” about that stuff. My guess would be: It was cheap, easily-gotten stuff, especially mid-Winter season, and could double as hog-feed if there was leftovers (more bacon!). That’s pretty lucky, right there, if you’re “po’ folks” down South.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: January 1, 2016, 11:43 pm

They’re not bad as a second course as long as you start off with five double bourbons.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: January 1, 2016, 11:52 pm

Yep, my mother was from NOLA.

Comment from Becca
Time: January 1, 2016, 11:53 pm

Kentucky native here, and we’ve always eaten blackeyed peas and cooked cabbage on NYD. Never heard the Sherman bit before; it was just said it brought good luck.

Comment from Mitchell
Time: January 2, 2016, 12:21 am

The Parental Units were born and raised in Arkansas, so southern cooking is something we grew up with. Mom made black eyed peas fairly often and I always liked them. Dad is more partial to crowder (aka purple-hulled peas). Collard greens wasn’t something they could get us kids to eat though.

Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: January 2, 2016, 12:23 am

The only use I have for red beans is to put in chili.

(and that’s when the fight started, your honor.)

Comment from naleta
Time: January 2, 2016, 12:43 am

My mother’s mother was from the South and my mother used to make what she called Hoppin’ John for New Years Day. Blackeyed peas and hamhocks cooked together and then rice added to soak up all the broth. My present husband does not eat beans of any sort, and so I haven’t bothered for several years.

Comment from BJM
Time: January 2, 2016, 1:53 am

Man, youse guys have brought up some of my food joneses.

My maternal Gran was from Misery and she always made a pot of black eyed peas w/ ham hocks for luck on NYD. I never liked the texture and haven’t had them for donkey’s.

One of my fav side dishes was whole green beans stewed with smoked pork belly, a splash of apple cider vinegar and whole young potatoes. Her collards were killer and her cornbread too. Crumbling up a chunk of cornbread into a bowl, drizzling it with dark Karo and filling the bowl with cold milk was a treat I still crave.

She made biscuits and grits for breakfast everyday well into her eighties. I could choke down a couple of her biscuits with a slab of country ham & red eye gravy fer sure.

If there is a Heaven and I get there she will have hot biscuits at the ready of that I am sure.

I’ve always considered Southern cooking the true American cuisine. Once you master the basic dishes and regional twists you can cook anything.

Comment from PatAZ
Time: January 2, 2016, 2:06 am

I’m southern but have been away since way back in the last century. Yeah, I’m old. Anyway, always black eyed peas, cooked with hog jowl or ham hocks, served over white rice and a sprinkling of chopped onions on top. Yum! And of course collards. We were told the collards would bring us green money. That never actually materialized though.

Comment from bds
Time: January 2, 2016, 5:05 am

I would disagree with black-eyed peas being tasteless. In my opinion, they have a pretty strong and nasty taste by themselves.

They can be decent cooked up in Hoppin’ John though; I’ve worked out a recipe for our family that is long on the smoked pork and the veggies, and light on the beans. The pork has to be hog jowls around here for New Years, no idea why, but you can get them prepped just like bacon so that’s fine by me. I put the collard greens in the pot too, just to get it all over with in one bowl. Just don’t overcook it, or you end up with slimy goo. All that said, good Hoppin’ John and warm, buttery cornbread make a pretty decent meal for starting off the new year.

Comment from Nina
Time: January 2, 2016, 6:57 am

I also do not like black eyed peas, and being many generations from California, they are fortunately not part of my NYE.

But I’ve no room to talk, as I’m in Norway and they eat strange stuff here at Christmas.

Comment from mojo
Time: January 2, 2016, 10:31 am

Well, I like ’em. Y’all are crazy.

Square of cornbread, cut in half and buttered. Ladle peas on top. sprinkle with chopped onion.

Ham hock in the peas, and lots of pepper.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 2, 2016, 10:46 am

Hog jowl. Mother always put a strip of it in a pot of beans. I have no idea if it was always real jowl of hog, or just a strip of any old pigfat. She pronounced it hogjoll.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: January 2, 2016, 11:20 am

So we have (to date) 19 comments on…. beans.

And Americans grumble about British food?!?


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 2, 2016, 11:30 am

This from a people who regard runny orange Heinz beans as breakfast food.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: January 2, 2016, 11:55 am

Uncle B – This Merkin is tired of grumbling about our own food, so grumbling about British food is a refreshing change.

MMe. Ermine – You are referring to Heinz Beanz? Yes, for breakfast runny orange beanz are in every way inferior to a peanut butter and bacon sandwich on rye toast.

Comment from Becca
Time: January 2, 2016, 1:43 pm

BJM – country ham, redeye gravy and biscuits are part of my family’s tradional Christmas morning breakfast.

Leave it to Southerners to make such a tasty gravy out of ham drippings and coffee.

Comment from dissent555
Time: January 2, 2016, 6:35 pm

… sock it to me …

OK here’s one –


Comment from Deborah HH
Time: January 2, 2016, 10:16 pm

We eat black-eyed peas. I prefer them home-grown and home-canned (or frozen—my mother’s preferred method of preservation). My step-sister Ruth cans the best black-eyed peas ever—blue ribbon winners. I usually mince a little onion into the pot, and add some crispy-fried bacon. Served with hot-buttered corn bread, of course. There is always a can or two in my pantry. We didn’t eat them yesterday—I forgot. My mother-in-law never forgets, and puts a shiny new dime in the bowl. No fishing allowed, but the person who gets the dime in their serving gets extra good luck for the next year.

The “Sherman” story: the only way to break the will of the Johnny Reb was to starve the south. The Yankees burned the crops, killed or confiscated the cattle, destroyed the grain and seed corn. Field peas (black-eyes peas) was cattle fodder and (mostly) overlooked. If my choice is starving or eating field peas, I’ll eat peas. So they ate some, and planted some. That where the “good luck” comes in. They lived because the peas lived.

I used to live in a little town in the Texas panhandle where the Chamber of Commerce paid the Boy Scout troop to deliver a can of black-eyed peas to every doorstep in town in-between Christmas and New Year’s day 🙂

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: January 3, 2016, 3:53 am

I was born a Yankee; in Pennsylvania, and my heritage is German (Well, actually from Alsace Lorraine), so we never ate black eyed peas. I have tried them several times since we moved to the South, but I am not impressed. Still, this year I tossed a can in the shopping cart on the theory that the professional cooks at the factory might know the secret. Uhm, nope.

That’s not to say that we didn’t have our own New Year’s traditions. We always ate pork with sauerkraut, and we always put a box outside the house overnight with all the basic necessities we would need for the next year -potatoes,carrots, milk, flour, salt, a bit of meat, and (just one piece!) candy for the children. If someone took something from the box it was supposed to be good luck, but no one ever did. However no one could visit the house at New Years without having something to eat….period. At midnight you had to hold (and kiss) the one you love, but you also had to hold cash in your hand so you would have money for the next year. I still have to do these things for reasons I can’t really explain. I am not superstitious but…. I admit that I fretted because I only had $40 in cash to hold this year instead of my usual $100. I thought about holding a credit card, but it just didn’t seem right.

Comment from tibby
Time: January 5, 2016, 9:34 pm

Just commenting to say that to us (raised in the southern gulf coast), Hoppin’ John is a relish we add to beans. Fresh diced tomato, bell pepper and onion. It’s a nice addition to beans or beans n rice.

Comment from J.S.Bridges
Time: January 6, 2016, 1:49 am

A propos of very nearly nothing, I do recall a bit of doggerel from my youth:

I eat my peas with honey;
I’ve done it all my life.
Although they do taste funny,
it keeps them on my knife.

Thenkew veddy much…I’m here all week, do try the veal and please tip generously.

Comment from unkawill
Time: January 8, 2016, 4:06 am

Black-eyed peas, like all beans are much better on the second day reheat.

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