Prosperity or good luck in food? Traditional Southern fare is often the companion of the new year, and it’s a tradition we’re happy to carry on because of its ease of preparation and its satisfying comfort.
Hoppin’ John. Black-eyed peas and rice traditionally cooked with fatback or a ham hock. Green pepper, onion, bay leaf, thyme. Lore has it that the peas are symbolic of pennies or coins and, therefore, bring prosperity. Greens added to the dish symbolize wealth as the color of money. Cornbread can be served as the symbolic color of gold. The flavor is wonderfully earthy.
Greens. Traditional fare is collard greens; however, we used kale which we have learned to crave with sautéed or roasted garlic. Serrano or jalapeno peppers are a great complement if you prefer mild heat to the warmth of garlic, and a small amount of bacon fat can be substituted for olive oil as you prefer. Apple cider vinegar brightens the flavor, and the greens may be sautéed in vegetable stock or simply in the water that clings to the leaves.
Fried Cabbage and Sausage. We chose a full-flavored apple-chicken sausage. Lots of sweated onion and just enough seasoning to support the overall flavor of the dish. Carrots and potatoes can be added if you prefer a fuller main dish.
Quick cooking times, all.
And since we’re ushering in prosperity and wealth, isn’t it only fair to round the menu out with a sweet symbol of our good fortune? After all, there’s nothing wrong with a small endorphin boost, yes? And chocolate symbolizes nothing if not love. And power. And devotion. And certain therapeutic health benefits. And who can say that a small caffeine bump isn’t beneficial to the system, or even its mild aphrodisiac qualities? OK, OK. Balance in all things.
So, the only skill required to usher in the new year is the desire to eat really, really well, and to support others in doing the same. So, I wish to feel the symbolism of the small choices I make in food and in life.
How I care for the least of things is how I care for the greatest of things. I’m happy to use symbolism as I enter 2014. Adventure awaits.
Happy new year.