Sure, I eat collard greens

“Collard greens are a staple vegetable in Southern U.S. cuisine. They are often prepared with other similar green leaf vegetables, such as spinach, kale, turnip greens, and mustard greens in the dish called “mixed greens”. Typically used in combination with collard greens are smoked and salted meats (ham hocks, smoked turkey drumsticks, smoked turkey necks, pork neckbones, fatback or other fatty meat), diced onions, vinegar, salt, and black pepper, white pepper, or crushed red pepper, and some cooks add a small amount of sugar. Traditionally, collards are eaten on New Year’s Day, along with black-eyed peas or field peas and cornbread, to ensure wealth in the coming year. Cornbread is used to soak up the “pot liquor”, a nutrient-rich collard broth. Collard greens may also be thinly sliced and fermented to make a collard sauerkraut that is often cooked with flat dumplings.” Wikipedia 

If you grow up in the South, sooner or later you’ taste collard greens. I love them, just as I also love spinach and mustard greens. My mother never cooked them because she grew up in the midwest and was familiar with midwestern foods. I always wanted to try new things and was the first (and only) person in the family to become addicted to boiled peanuts and stalks of sugar cane we chewed while walking down the street.

My wife who, unlike me, was born in the South, doesn’t like collard greens. So I buy mine at the store in cans. Dump the stuff out of a can, heat them on the stovetop, and they’re ready to eat. The same does for Hoppin John which, you guessed it, my wife doesn’t like either. It’s a nice mix of black-eyed peas, pork, and onions.

I like most Southern goods except for crawfish.

A lot of people make fun of Southern food, especially grits. I don’t understand that and figure most of the people making fun of grits have never shrimp and grits, a great low country dish. That goes well with a side of collards.

Plus, no matter what people say, the best fried chicken comes from the South.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the Florida Folk Magic Series set in the Florida Panhandle of the 1950s.

Are you eating collards, black-eyed peas and cornbread?

“Each ingredient has meaning and purpose. Black-eyed peas represent coins, collard greens represent dollar bills and cornbread represents gold. Eating each Southern staple on New Year’s Day is supposed to guarantee a prosperous year, ensuring wealth and luck. While, I do not believe in luck, I do believe in the power of tradition.”

– Amber Wilson in her blog For The Love of the South

Wikipedia Photo
Wikipedia Photo

As far as I know, I had black-eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread only once on January 1. Something bad happened in the days after that and while my parents and their friends discussed the fact that the meal wasn’t a magic charm in my case, I no longer remember what the bad thing was. Must have blocked it out.

Even though I like these things (the collards take a lot of vinegar to disguise the taste and the black-eyed peas have  to be fresh rather than baked into a brown mush like many people do), my wife doesn’t like any of them. Well, we both like cornbread and still have some left over from Christmas Day.

Why tempt fate by eating this combination again at New Year’s?

I like a lot of Southern food: boiled peanuts, mullet, fried catfish, hoppin’ John, pumpkin frybread, Vidalia onions and yellow squash, hush puppies, grits, and a ton of stuff from New Orleans. But collards never got into my top 100 things to eat. Neither did black-eyed peas, for that matter.

Maybe we’ll have steak on new year’s day along with a baked potato wrapped up in tin foil and some fake bacon bits ready to go. Of course, if you believe in the whole collards, black-eyed peas and cornbread spell, go ahead an eat it at your own discretion and maybe it will bring you luck for 2017. By the way, if you click on the link above for Amber’s blog, her recipe for this old Southern spell actually looks pretty good.

Happy new year!