Doughnuts and black-eyed peas

Published 10:39 pm Friday, January 2, 2009

I’ve never been a real resolution type of person. My father probably would have said it had something to do with lacking resolve, although he would have called it “stick-to-it-iveness.” For all his wonderful qualities, Dad didn’t have a command of the English language.

People all over the world look to the New Year as a chance to make resolutions: Lose weight, stop smoking, spend more time with the kids — those sorts of things. I look at it more as a chance to get my wife to make us black-eyed peas.

I love black-eyed peas; she doesn’t. So we don’t really eat them that often. Fortunately for me, there’s a whole New Year’s tradition associated with them, and I’ve been able to convince her that the tradition is an important part of my heritage as a Southerner.

Email newsletter signup

She’s from southern California, where New Year’s traditions have more to do with surfing and low-riders (not the pants, either). When she moved east, she brought along her family’s custom of making tamales during the winter, and I’ve no complaints there.

Still, I do love black-eyed peas, and my constant whining about them every year between Christmas and New Year’s Day has finally begun to pay off: The other day, she showed me a bag of dried black-eyed peas she’d bought to make this year.

She has assured me that we’ll sit down together with the grandkids for lunch on New Year’s Day and enjoy the fruits of her kitchen labors. As I write this column, it’s still New Year’s Eve, so I can’t tell you just how much I loved them or just how many I ate, but I can assure you they were good and that I ate my share.

If you Google search “black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day,” you’ll get almost 270,000 hits, ranging from recipes to childhood memories. Many of those pages tell of the good luck that the earthy legumes are supposed to bring if consumed on the first day of the year. One page also describes the Dutch tradition of eating New Year’s doughnuts for luck.

I can’t say I put much stock in the good-luck part of the tradition. But if it gets me doughnuts in the morning and black-eyed peas for lunch, then I’m on board.