I did my part by cooking and eating "a mess of greens and beans." Black-eyed peas and collard greens, which you eat on New Year's Day to bring you good luck and prosperity. The greens represent cash, and the peas are coins. The cornbread--corn pone-- must represent Debit cards...my cornbread was pretty flat and crusty.
But, surrounded by Yankees at one point, I couldn't explain to them why beans & greens bring prosperity.
So I did a little armchair research--via Google.
From Suite 101: One idea is that, "American slaves stayed up on December 31, 1862 waiting for the bill that President Abraham Lincoln signed - the Emancipation Proclamation – to go into effect. They celebrated with what they had – black eyed peas ad greens."
And the not so exciting theory: " Black eyed pea and greens tradition is shared across cultural and ethnic boundaries, so it seems more likely that black eyed peas which keep well when dried and collards which are seasonal in the South in December/January made sense for a New Year meal."
I've also heard that after the civil war and Sherman's march, there wasn't much left but greens and beans.
Never mind. It's a good meal..beans & greens.
I don't throw in a ham hock, though. I'm vegetarian, so I use olive oil and jalapenos.
I'm the author of THE GARDEN ANGEL (St. Martin's Press/Picador)
and SECRET KEEPERS (St. Martin's Press/paperback from Picador in May 2010).
I am founder and director of the Writing Room, a program for writers in South Carolina.
Visit www.mindyfriddle.com to read excerpts from my novels, interviews with authors, and book reviews.
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The Garden Angel (St. Martin's Press/Picador): An obituary writer schemes to hold onto her dilapidated, ancestral home and in the process befriends an Emily Dickinson-obsessed agoraphobic stuck in the suburbs. Think "Grey Gardens" meets "Fried Green Tomatoes."
Strong storytelling, comic touches, prickly family dynamics and the magical power of nature. A once-grand heirloom garden is covertly rescued, revealing a divided family’s secret lives of turmoil and yearning. From St. Martin's Press in May.