JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – The new year is finally here.
On the first day of 2024, restaurants around the world will serve traditional black-eyed and mung beans.
Many of us remember sitting at the dinner table and enjoying this traditional meal. It was not only delicious, but essential as it was believed to bring wealth, health, and even prosperity in the new year.
Did you know that this tradition dates back hundreds of years?
Black-eyed peas and green vegetables are one of the longest-running traditional dishes on New Year’s Day. At Breeze His Soul Food His Restaurant in Jackson, this is the top menu of daily specials.
“I don’t care where you are or what you’re doing, you’re going to find a bowl of black-eyed peas and a plate of collard greens,” said Breeze restaurant employee Jarrell Smith. .
Green symbolizes paper money and the belief that it brings greater economic prosperity. Black-eyed beans are said to promise good luck, health, and abundance. Some people add cornbread to represent gold. It’s a flavorful combination.
“We’re in the South, so we like to make our food spicy,” Smith said.
Behind its taste there is an important meaning derived from African culture.
Enrica Williams, creative chef and co-founder of Magnolia Sunset Market and Fauna Foodworks, says this New Year’s Day tradition comes from several places, including West Africa.
“It definitely originated in West Africa and was brought over by slaves. Black-eyed peas are eaten with rice. They were a very important crop in West Africa.
Then the slave trade began, and slaves brought these peas with them wherever they were taken.
“So these peas were very popular not only in the Deep South, but also in Brazil and the Caribbean. For me, it was a way to tie in the connection and where it came from. It was for them, without losing who they are. It was a good way to connect and celebrate ourselves.”
She also points out that the essential New Year’s Day meal has ties to the Civil War.
“I once read that black-eyed peas survived even when everything was pillaged and burned. Peas sustained Confederate soldiers, kept them alive, fed them. It sustained many people and was a source of good fortune. It is said that it became
Williams also talked about how vegetables and cornbread were added to traditional meals.
“Greens were added because we are a people who grow things. We were gardening and farming, and I know we had lots of vegetables and cabbages. We also grew peas. If you have it, you have to eat bread. Bread was used as an eating utensil, so we used bread to soak up the food. This is also a West African tradition.”
So next time you prepare this popular dish, know that there is a lot of history behind it.
Want more WLBT news in your inbox? click here To subscribe to our newsletter.
Is there a spelling or grammar error in the story? Please click here Report it and include the article headline in your email.
Copyright 2024 WLBT. All rights reserved.