There wasn’t any doubt as to what we would be eating on New Year’s Day. It had to be collard greens and black-eyed peas. I certainly wasn’t the only one at the grocery store who was buying these essentials. In fact, around the meat section of the grocery store, a little group gathered to discuss how best to cook the unusual vegetables.
But where does this tradition stem from?
In the most common version, the collards represent paper money, and the peas represent coins. Some add sweet potatoes to represent gold.
Others say you eat greens and beans — a poor man’s food — on New Year’s, to eat rich for the rest of the year.
For me, it is a family tradition and as I cooked the collards and black-eyed peas, I was reminded of the family gatherings at my grandparents’ house. I was reminded that there were things that my family did, who had been in the same city for four generations, that friends’ families didn’t do. For me, it was reminder that I was rich in family heritage and that heritage is as comforting as good southern cooking.