Every culture has its “lucky food” to be eaten on the first day of each new year. Most of the sites I checked talk about the symbolism of money. For instance, greens would represent folding dollar bills, and peas would symbolize coins. My theory is somewhat different. I believe the lucky food will be something that is common to the culture, inexpensive, traditional, healthy, and a “comfort food.”
Anyone who has ever lived in the Deep South, or if you know someone who has, then you know that a pot of black-eyed peas is a “must” on New Year’s Day for good luck. Occasionally, people eat “Hoppin’ John,” which is spiced up and served over rice. That’s a wonderful dish, too, but regular black-eyed peas is really all it takes to be lucky in the new year.
There is no recipe for this, other than to take black-eyed peas, either fresh (haven’t seen those in Hawaii), frozen (a little easier to find), or dried (which is what I did this year), and cook them up with whatever kind of pork you have on hand. Occasionally, I’ve cut up some kale or chard from my garden to add later.
The pork can be bacon, leftover ham, ham hock, or what in the South, we called “sow belly.” I had half a rasher of bacon and some sow belly. I soaked the peas overnight, drained them the next morning and added more water for simmering.
There are other ways to do this. For example, you can do it in a slow cooker, or bring to a boil then let sit for a couple hours. Everyone has their favorite way of doing it. For me, it all depends on my mood and how much time I want to take. The slower you cook them, the better they taste. I add chopped onion, and either salsa or hot sauce of some sort.
I tried to get a close-up of the peas in the pot, but the steam kept fogging up the camera lens, so this is the clearest I was able to get.
Along with corn bread and a hot pepper sauce that my brother sent me from Florida, I served them to a friend who came to supper. Enough peas were eaten by both of us to keep us going all year. (That’s not intended as a joke!)
Hau`oli Makahiki Hou!
(Happy New Year!)