As the Gregorian calendar prepares to shed its chronological skin from one year to the next, I catch myself becoming increasingly excited. It's not because of that silly illusion of one year ending and new one beginning with a particular form of timekeeping, although tradition is involved. For me, I catch myself becoming increasing excited about the prospect of black-eyed peas.
My father's southern, and, in some places within the Confederacy, it is believed eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day will bring luck and prosperity. As long as I can remember, that is the one day, without fail, we would have them. There have been times I have looked forward to the Gregorian new year more than any of the other winter holiday just to enjoy this dish.
The bean actually originated over in western Africa. It follows that southerners were probably introduced to black-eyed peas via their slaves. Me, being the fan of African cooking, I do have a recipe from that part of the world.
The southern/family recipe is pretty straight forward; black-eyed peas, garlic, onion, ham, salt, pepper, and Texas Pete sauce. My version does not have salt, seeing as I rarely cook with it and I also use either cajun spice or a creole blend I acquired. The African version includes tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, berbere spice, turmeric, coconut milk, and nit'ir qibe spiced butter. Having made both, I can say both variations have their merits.
This year, because of lives and professional obligations, it is dubious as to whether the family will be gathering all in one spot for New Year's Day. Part of me is depressed about the prospect. Another aspect accepts it with a sort of shrug along the lines of something John and Paul-the Beatles, not the Biblical prophets-might say;
life goes on hah,
how the life goes on..."
So, I look to make my own batch of black-eyed peas. My daughter will be visiting, so she'll at least get to enjoy them, which she often does. Although, if I don't convince Sabina to make her famous red beans and rice, I contemplate making a batch of the African-style as well. Given how much I enjoy black-eyed peas, it's not like that would be an imposition.
Two batches of black-eyed peas? On New Year's Day? Oh, no! Please don't throw me in that brier patch!
I can hardly wait...