Southern families wouldn’t dream of missing their black-eyed peas on January 1. But where did this tradition come from?
Believe it or not, the custom is over 1,500 years old and hails from Jewish tradition when black-eyed peas were eaten on their new year, Rosh Hashanah. Possibly, Sephardic Jews who emigrated to Georgia, brought the custom with them. And during the Civil War, residents of Vicksburg, Miss. thought they’d run out of food but discovered they had some black-eyed peas — so thereafter, the light brown beauties were considered lucky.
Eating the peas symbolizes good fortune, too, because the dried beans – which is what they actually are – look like coins and when they swell it mimics expanding wealth. Most folk consider eating black-eyed peas a sign of humility, and traditionally this was the food of the common man.
Other New Year’s Day food traditions include eating collard greens, which look like money, indicating economic fortune; in Japan, herring roe is consumed for fertility; and in Sweden a variety of fish dishes, black-eyed peas, and at midnight twelve grapes are consumed for luck. The Swedes, like the Norwegians, hide an almond in rice pudding – the one who finds it is guaranteed good luck all year.
With this past summer the hottest on record globally, it’s not hard to sense the tangibles at stake as tens of thousands gather in Paris this week for the UN’s 21st annual Conference of the Parties.
COP21 will bring together world leaders, including presidents Obama and Hollande as well as over 140 other heads of state, as delegates meet in plenary sessions and seek to solve climate change quandaries. Some events, particularly the main marches, were shuttered for security reasons.
Keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius is crucial. Where the food industry is concerned, global warming means disrupted food and water supplies, rising prices, starvation, sickness, and death. The time has never been more pressing to eat seasonally, locally, and with sustainability in mind.
UK-based chef Marcus Wareing was chief consultant on the Oct. 23 release, “Burnt”, starring Bradley Cooper, and he is quick to sing the star’s praises.
In a recent interview with People magazine, he shared that, “My team wrote all the recipes and menus and made sure it represented the way a chef and a kitchen would have really worked.”
In terms of mentoring Cooper, his “thinking” was to make sure the actor – whose Adam Jones is a head chef from London striving to receive his third Michelin star and set up shop in Paris – moved, directed the kitchen, and dressed a plate correctly. Cooper has also been quoted as saying all the cooking we see in the film he actually did.
Wareing raved that the star, who once worked as a prep chef at an Italian restaurant in his home state of New Jersey, is a natural. “He’d watch me dress a plate and copy it almost identically.”