Growing up a midwestern girl, I never associated any particular foods with new years. However, my husband, who is from Louisiana, has a rich food tradition on new years.
The one food that must be served on new years are black-eyed peas, which are eaten to ensure luck and prosperity. According to my mother-in-law, a Louisiana historian, black-eyed peas got their status as a good luck charm during the civil war. Evidently the Union soldiers destroyed or consumed every other crop as they marched through the south, leaving southerners only black-eyed peas on which to survive. It all comes back to the civil war, doesn't it?
Here is my favorite recipe for serving black-eyed peas for new years. It is based on one popular in St. Martinville, LA, where my father-in-law is from. Because pork is also thought to symbolize progress and wealth, the sausage and ham, this dish could be especially lucky. Enjoy and happy new year!
Makes 8 servings
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb smoked sausage, sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch slices
1/2 pound diced ham
1 (15 oz) can black-eyed peas (or equivalent amount of fresh peas)
1 tsp kosher salt
1. Heat the oil in a dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat. Add the sausage and ham and cook, stirring, until the meat is lightly browned, roughly 7-8 minutes.
2. Add the black-eyed peas and simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Photo Credit to Melinda Nagy, Dreamstime.com.