When I was a kid, I hated black-eyed peas because the cooks at the high school cafeteria boiled them into a brown mush that was best used for various construction projects like mortaring bricks together. Or, low-grade library paste.
Does eating them bring good luck? The one year my mother fixed them the traditional Southern way (brown mush) something bad happened. It was so bad, I’ve blocked out what it was. I vowed to never again eat black-eyed peas that looked like mush.
Mother usually served them the way a Midwestern cook would serve regular peas. Those I liked. But nobody else in the Florida Panhandle cooked them that way. Unlike my parents, I liked a lot of traditional Southern foods: boiled peanuts, mullet, grits, rosin baked potatoes, collards, hush puppies, anything out of New Orleans, traditional Southern fried chicken, pan fry bread, sugar cane stalks to chew on, green beans cooked with bacon, plenty of gravy, catfish, and Apalachicola oysters.
Every new year, I see my Facebook friends showing pictures of their January 1 meals with heaping ladels of mushy black-eyed peas. Okay, so my parents came from the midwest and the northwest and didn’t boil peas into a road-tar like mess that could be used to resurface city streets.
No, I’m not totally Southern when it comes to black-eyed peas. Give me a sack of boiled peanuts any day.