We've always had black eyed peas for our New Years dinner, that and Cherries Jubilee. I always thought it was for luck and money. Well, I was right about the luck part anyway. Turns out, that:
"The Tradition dates back tot he Civil War. Black-eyed peas were considered animal food. The peas were not worthy of General Sherman's Union troops. When Union soldiers raided the Confederates food supplies, legend says they took everything except the peas and salted pork. The Confederates considered themselves lucky to be left with those meager supplies, and survived the winter. Peas became symbolic of good luck and prosperity."
There are several more reasons people eat Black eyed peas on New Years, look for the link below if you want to find out more information.
One year, I waited too long and was unable to find a single can of black eyed peas. I was not a happy girl, so I got a bag of them and proceeded to fix them like any other dried bean. Nice idea, except they tasted like cardboard. Maybe that's even an insult to cardboard. This year, I have found a recipe my sister sent to my Mom and me an unknown-amount-of-time-ago. Guess what we are having for New Years this year? Black eyed Peas made like this!
12/30/2011: Update. I made this tonight and did not have canned tomatoes, I forgot we had used them for Christmas dinner. I did have a jar of tomato/basil spaghetti sauce so I poured the whole jar in. This recipe is really good, I got a lot of rave reviews at the New Year dinner tonight.
Picture taken from:
Black eyed peas history:
Household tips Examiner