Cow Peas For New Year's: You Gonna Eat That?

Yesterday I wrote about a New Year's tradition based on German heritage, which is applicable considering the strong German population in the Dallas area. (Remember when Oktoberfest blew my mind a little?) But this post considers a tradition a little more native to Texas, and perhaps all of the Southeast. I'm talking about black-eyed peas.

You might call them cow peas, depending on where you were raised. Originally cultivated to fatten up cattle for your New Year's rib roast, they eventually became a popular component of soul food, hijacking dishes like Hoppin' John and Texas Caviar like little one-eyed bandits.

And on New Year's for many, black-eyed peas stand in for potatoes alongside cabbage for the starch in a traditional good luck meal. You might add a little ham hock (I hope you do), but the idea's the same: the more you eat, the better the next year. That's if you can get them at all.

According to Fox News out of Memphis, black-eyed peas could actually be in peril. The story claims you'll have better luck booking The Black Eyed Peas for a New Year's Party than finding a single black-eyed pea for New Year's day. Sounds extreme. I called Central Market and they've got plenty in stock. Urban Market has dried and canned beans stocked, but no fresh beans. Kroger on Cedar Spring has all three.

These shortage stories always put a little knot in your gut. They make you feel like if you don't run out the door immediately to buy an essential ingredient your holiday will be ruined. This year's drought, however, has been affecting all sorts of crops and prices and will continue to do so into the next year. Maybe play it safe? You best get to gettin' and pick up your peas tonight.

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