I have a new favorite end-of-the-year tradition that a few American friends taught me over the holidays.
Here’s what you do: Gather together a heap of friends and family for dinner and pour a pile of black-eyed peas on the center of the dining room table. One by one, each person picks up a black-eyed pea, tells the crowd what they’re most grateful for and drops the pea into an empty jar. It’s impossible not to see how much we have to be grateful for as the peas stack up. And it’s so amazing to listen to what people truly care about and what makes them the happiest. I can still hear my nephew say in his shy little boy voice that he was most thankful for his brother. My mum was reduced to tears.
Why black-eyed peas? My American mates came in handy here too…
Black-eyed peas are considered a lucky food in the American South. People eat them on New Year’s Day to bring fortune and prosperity in the coming year. (Thankfully, they’re delicious with a nutty, earthy flavor. Cook them with bacon to give them a touch of smoky richness.)
While I have my own black-eyed ritual, you may want to take a cue from Southern folks and cook a batch of peas next New Year’s. Different families have their own ways of cooking and serving them to up their luck factor. Check out these options:
Eat only 365 peas, one for each day of the year. Eat less, and you’ll only be lucky for that number of days. Eat more and the extra days become bad luck.
Cook them with a new dime or penny. The person who gets the coin in their bowl is extra lucky.
Finish every pea on the plate or your luck will be bad or leave one pea on the plate to share your luck with someone else.
Serve with collard greens to represent cash; the beans resemble coins.
Serve with stewed tomatoes to bring on wealth and good health.