Every place has its lucky New Year tradition – that one magical food that, if consumed on New Year’s Day, will grant you good luck for the rest of the year. In Spain, it’s grapes. In Germany, it’s sauerkraut. Lentils in Italy. Turkey, pomegranates…
And in the U.S South, it’s black-eyed peas. Specifically, hoppin’ john.
Hoppin’ john is a dish composed of black-eyed peas and rice, with veggies and pork depending on the recipe. And while the recipe varies, it’s certainly commonplace to see some form of black eyed peas on a southern New Year’s table.
Why black-eyed peas, you ask?
Well, there are a couple of theories, but two that are pretty prominent. According to one theory, they were eaten by the slaves on January 1, 1863, the day the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect, because that was all they had to eat. From that day forward, eating black-eyed peas became a lucky New Year’s tradition. Another theory suggests they became lucky after the Civil War. Union soldiers consumed all of the Southern crops, but left the peas for the locals.
And what does this have to do with sustainable seafood, you inquire? Well, we’re getting to that!
We were thinking that, maybe this year, you could add some sustainable, Lowcountry seafood to your hoppin’ john dish for double the good luck! In many cultures, seafood is considered a symbol of good fortune, and we all know we have no lack of delicious seafood here in Charleston. So perhaps you could pair this year’s dish with some fried fish. Or even add some shrimp directly into the mix!
Oh, and don’t forget what time of year it is. Oyster roast season! You could roast up some oysters from one of our friendly, neighborhood oyster farms and serve them as an appetizer or on the side of your favorite hoppin’ john recipe.
And, if you happen to open up an oyster and spot the lucky pea crab, consider your 2017 golden!