“When it comes to luck, you make your own” ~ Bruce Springsteen. So true, Bruce. However, we can all use as much luck as we can get after 2020 so I will be makin’ some Hoppin’ John and Cornbread! And, guess what! This will be the very first time for this Southern gal.
What is Hoppin’ John you say? Read on…
Hoppin’ John has many variations (as I have found in combing recipes) with its most simple being Carolina Peas and Rice. Some people say that the name came from an old man named Hoppin’ John who had a bag leg selling it on the streets of Charleston, South Carolina (History.com). Others say it tastes so good you hop around (thetakeout.com). Culinary scholar Karen Hess believes that both recipe and name are derived from Hindi, Persian, and Malay words that mean, simply, “cooked rice and beans.” Whatever its origins, the dish, originally made with pigeon peas (Pois Pigeons) in West Africa, arrived in Charleston and became a favorite of the rice-plantation owners as well as the enslaved. (South Carolina Encyclopedia; SCE) Certainly, the dish followed the slave trade through the Caribbean into the deep South.
It quickly became a dish to enjoy on holidays and most especially New Year’s Day with the superstitions proclaiming:
- It should be the first thing you eat on New Year’s Day. Many Southern families make a champagne toast at midnight with Hoppin’ John. Some say the more you eat, the more luck you get. Others say to increase your luck by leaving three peas on the table to signify luck, romance and good fortune. (SCE)
- Eating collard greens representing money alongside it, increases your luck as well as cornbread representing gold.
- “If you eat leftover Hoppin’ John the day after New Year’s Day, then the name changes to Skippin’ Jenny since one is demonstrating their determination of frugality. Eating a bowl of Skippin’ Jenny is believed to even better your chances for a prosperous New Year!” – Source: Beyond Black-Eyed Pease: New Year’s good-luck foods, by Mick Bann, Dec. 26,2008, Austin Chronicle.
I used a recipe from the Magical Slow Cooker as it had good reviews to make my Hoppin’ John. I did not add the ham hock; only bacon. It turned out pretty good! Do you have a favorite recipe for Hoppin’ John? Please leave it below as I would love to see!
Wishing you luck (and the ability and drive to work hard), the respect for the dish and the wish and that no person should ever be enslaved, and much love as we approach 2021.
Sweater from the Hi Sugarplum x Gibson Collection. By clicking through, I may receive a small commission.