Happy New Year!

In Spain, they eat 12 grapes for good luck on New Year’s Eve. In the Southern United States they eat a slightly more caloric good luck trifecta of greens, blackeyed peas and hog jowls. I didn’t catch on to this good luck charm until college and hog jowls never sounded like anything I ever needed to eat. Personally, I think it has an image problem more than anything; neither “hog” nor “jowls” are particularly nice sounding words. But hog jowls are a lot like bacon; they are smoked and cured. Call them by their Portuguese name (bochechas de porco) or Italian name (guanciale) and the stuff would cost three times as much and fly off the shelves.

My Granny was very experienced with this Southern New Year’s Day tradition. She grew up in the mountains of northern Georgia. In the 1920s, when she was a young girl, it was customary to go out in the front yard with pots, pans and spoons and “make a big noise” to ring in the New Year. The next day she always ate greens and Hoppin’ John. She told me that blackeyed peas and hog jowl bring good luck in the New Year. The greens, usually turnip, collard or mustard, bring money. Granny said, “If you eat greens on New Year’s Day you are supposed to get rich.” She added that although she was often disappointed that her wallet wasn’t fat the next day, the meal still tasted “mighty good.”

So get out your pots, pans and spoons, go out to your front yard and make a big ruckus for the New Year. Then eat some greens and Hoppin’ John and enjoy a prosperous year!

Next post: Hoppin’ John recipe.