Tuesday 1 January 2013

Hoppin’ John – A Good Luck Recipe for New Year’s Day

Hoppin John  
Last year I had a strange call on New Year’s Day, from friends in the US, informing me that if I wanted good luck for the coming year I needed to make Hoppin’ John and eat black-eyed peas.  Luckily I had a mixture of beans in my cupboard (we call them black-eyed beans) and managed to cobble something reasonably correct together. 

This year I was prepared, and got the ingredients in early, although many of them you will have already.  And mine is now sitting on the hob developing spicily.  This is a recipe that comes from the Southern US, it’s also warming, filling, spicy and extremely delicious, as long as you like spicy food and beans.

Traditions:  In the late Middle Ages there was a tradition to bring luck by eating beans in parts of France and Spain.

In the US one tradition is that each person should leave three black-eyed beans on their plate to bring luck, fortune and romance in the New Year.

The first time Hoppin’ John is mentioned is in Frederick Law Olmstead’s travel diary, dated 1846 - A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States. 

Hoppin’ John consists of black-eyed peas (we call them black-eyed beans), with ham or bacon, onion, garlic, pepppers, tomatoes,  rice and hot seasoning, chillies or hot Cayenne pepper.  There are lots of different recipes, some including ham and others not, and with different seasonings.  I use this Hoppin’ John recipe for mine.

Bearing in mind that we’re all after a bit of good luck, that it’s not expensive after the feasting over the Christmas holidays and only takes a few moments to prepare you might like to give this a try.  Make it early and let it sit so that the spices can work their magic.  It’s very easy to make it too hot, but provided you enjoy spicy food that can be an advantage as you’ll scare the multitudes away………..

By the way, the day after New Year’s Day the leftovers are called ‘Skipping Jenny’, and bring hope for even more prosperity in the New Year.