Life in the A-Frame

Life in the A-Frame

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Southern roots, Southern food traditions

Being from the South, New Year's Day celebrations include making this meal for dinner. And by dinner, I mean lunch. If I say supper, I mean dinner. Yep, that's the way it goes here in Texas. I did a little research to find out what each item represents. It seems that it all started during the Civil War:

 The green part of the meal is for money. The hope was that you would have a few "greenbacks" in your pocket during the coming year. I usually make collard greens but this year I baked cabbage with slices of bacon.

 The cornbread  represents something humble. The old saying is "Eat poor the first of the year, eat richly the rest of the year".

 The salted pork is for prosperity. Having a little meat preserved in salt left for winter was definitely a sign of prosperity.

Black eyed peas show humility and good luck. Peas and cornbread are "soul food", probably something the poor people and slaves were likely to have. This meal would be welcome by any family during those terrible times.

During the Civil War (which is when most of these traditions were started) it was lucky to have enough staples this time of year. One theory is that Northern soldiers weren't familiar with the dried peas or with the collards growing in the fields. They may not have recognized these as food sources. Therefore, the soldiers didn't confiscate these items. That meant that Southerners who had these left to eat were "lucky".

Today, for my family, it means a hearty, extremely tasty meal. Fried pork fat,  two vegetables seasoned with bacon, and a pan of hot cornbread can't be topped. Try it!

1 comment:

Daisy said...

Looks yummy! We're not from the south, but my Mom used to fix pork and sauerkraut for New Year's and said it was for good luck. I don't remember ever hearing her say what they were symbolic of, though. Interesting post! :)