When I was a youngun’ black-eyed peas and rice were a staple New Years Day meal. The menu at grandma’s house was always ham, black-eyed peas, rice and collards. When my grandparents passed on, my mom kept up with ham, black-eyed peas and rice (with pepper juice and onions). I seem to think she decided against the collards, but I remember her telling me stories that grandma used to wash them in the washing machine – and maybe that’s why she didn’t do them too often.
I have fond memories of a huge stock pot of beans simmering on the stove with a ham hock or a slab of salt pork floating around in the bean liquor. The thought of running into grandma and grandpa’s house with the smell of ham and beans wafting out of the kitchen is truly making my mouth water. I didn’t really care about the collards (I like them now, but I’m not sure if I did then), but I truly loved the idea of black-eyed peas and rice with vinegar.
As a little girl, I thought there was something so pretty about these tiny peas with eyes the same color as mine. Silly right? As I write this, it occurs to me this sounds like something my mom would have said to me when I was first introduced to black-eyed peas.
I hadn’t had black-eyed peas in years, until this last new years day, when I traveled to see my sister and her family for the day. She had a pot of black-eyed peas because “its tradition! You have to have them! Right?!” They were a whole lot healthier than grandma’s and maybe even mom’s, but they were the best and most lovely black-eyed peas I’d ever had.
Since then, I’ve thought a lot about ways to implement black-eyed peas into my regular culinary rotation. I’ve spend a few hours here and there looking for recipes that could be implemented into a heart-healthy diet, because really, how healthy can a slab of salted pork really be? I had no idea these awesome little peas are ingredients in more than just southern cuisine.
The three recipes in the article below will be meals I will try in the next month or so.
Here’s the Article: Black-Eyed Peas Draw Full Flavor From African Roots
I used to think of black-eyed peas as a purely American food, much loved in the South. Despite the time I spent living in Austin, I’ve never made them the way Texans do, using ham hocks or salt pork for flavoring, and I’ve had more than one run-in with staunch traditionalists who have challenged — even berated — my vegetarian approach.
Even now that I’m not a strict vegetarian (albeit it’s the way I eat most of the time) I prefer black-eyed peas that have not been simmered with pork products. I love their earthy depth of flavor and I have never thought, “Gee, these would be really great if they just had some pork to flavor them.” They have plenty going for them on their own.