Happy New Year,
- Weird weather: WRAL reports the warm, wet winter poses a threat to wheat, soy, and strawberry crops throughout the state. Read more here.
- Flounder wars: N.C.’s new limits on flounder fishing go into effect today after months of acrimonious debate. Read more here.
- The future of food: At one of the most popular conferences in the nation, young farmers look ahead the challenges facing sustainable agriculture. Read more here.
- Premium pruno: A handy guide for making use of any leftover, and professional advice for incorporating food waste into craft brewing. Read more here.
- Good reads: The Southern Foodways Alliance published Cornbread Nation 2015, a compendium of the best writing on the topic of Southern food. Read more here.
Folding money and pocket change. Friendship and good luck. Health and wealth. No matter which symbolism you subscribe to, Southern tradition suggests you’d better fix a plate on New Year’s Day, or you might miss out on all of the above in the months ahead.
Culinary historian Michael Twitty digs up the African roots of the quintessential pairing:
An ancient staple of the diet in Senegambia and its hinterlands, the black-eyed pea grows well in hot, drought-conducive conditions and is a symbol of resilience, mercy, and kindness. In Maryland, black-eyed peas can be traced back to the mid-18th century, when it was a field crop, and was exported from the Chesapeake region to the West Indies. They continue to be seen as a sign of blessing and are paired with greens as good luck food on New Year’s Day. As a child I remember not only eating black-eyed peas, but putting them in everyone’s wallet or pocketbook so that they would have money for the entire year.
Symbolizing cash, the number of greens you throw in symbolizes the number of friends you will make, and the color green (in leaves and plants) symbolizes vitality, opportunity, happiness, and growth in several West and West Central African cultures.
“Greens,” to a Southerner in the 18th and 19th centuries could mean lamb’s quarters, young poke leaves or wild mustard or it could have been the collards, turnip greens, mustard greens, cabbage, kale, or chard grown in truck patches or kitchen gardens. Other times, when all else was scarce, it might be dandelion greens, purslane, young oak or hickory leaves or blackberry leaves.
Don’t forget the chow-chow, hot pepper vinegar, and cornbread.