When Will.i.am, founding member of the Black Eyed Peas, was asked how they chose their band's name he said, “Black-eyed peas are food for the soul,” and indeed they are. To start the New Year off in good health, combine Black-eyed peas for the traditional New Year's dish: Hoppin' John.
Black-eyed peas are a nourishing and fulfilling food eaten the world over. With their distinct black dot their name in different languages usually refers to it. In Greek: mavro (black) matika (eyed). English colonialists called them “cowpeas.” Dr. Vananda Shiva, a Delhi-based scientist and environmental activist, recounts in her 1999 book Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply that the English cursorily categorized the diverse beans they found in India as animal fodder. They renamed the Vigna unguiculata beans for cows, hence, cowpeas; for chickens, chickpeas, and pigeons got peas as well. In the USA, advancing Union troops in the Civil War also made this mistake. When they destroyed the southern countryside’s food crops, they ignored the "cowpeas" thinking them only for animal use – thus they became the lucky “ha-ha-you-missed-'em" beans.
Black-eyed peas have long been a southern food tradition. Using them in New Years’ ritual dishes likely goes back to original Sephardic Jewish settlers in Georgia in the 1760s. Among many symbolic dishes, lubyah (black eyed peas) are part of traditional Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) menus. The symbolism of eating black-eyed peas and greens for the New Year has been passed along into the American tradition. Since the peas swell when cooked, they invite prosperity, and the greens symbolize money.
Hoppin' John might inspire kids to hop around until you get this wonderful dish to the table. But make sure to make extra, the leftovers are known as Skippin’ Jenny. The combination of rice, beans, and greens make this a nourishing and comforting dish.
Black-eyed peas alone have 9g protein and 4g fiber per 1/2 cup serving and also have a low-glycemic index. Combined with a super food like collard greens, The FruitGuys can't think of a healthier start to the New Year.