Black-Eyed Peas

Black-Eyed Peas

By Faye Gaston

Eating Black-Eyed Peas on New Year's Day is a Southern tradition for luck and prosperity in the New Year. Peas are the essential element. Some serve them with "greens" (collards, mustard or turnip greens). The peas represent coins and the greens represent paper money. In some areas, cabbage is used in place of the greens.

Cornbread, served with the peas and greens, represents gold.

Black-eyed peas served with stewed tomatoes represent wealth and health. Adding a shiny penny or dime to the pot of peas is another tradition. The person who gets the penny or dime receives the best luck for the New Year. (Unless the recipient swallows the coin!)

Often onions, garlic, and celery are sauteed together and can be added to simmering peas. Meat such as bacon and ham hocks are popular additions, and salt and pepper. Put hot sauce on the table for another addition. There are many recipes for salads and other dishes made with black-eyed peas.

In cooking "dried" black-eyed peas, they are brought to a boil and simmered with seasoning, for 45 minutes to an hour, or for six to eight hours in a slow-cooker.

Black-eyed peas are a good source of nutrition: low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and low in sodium. They are high in potassium, iron and fiber.

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