Good cracklings

As custom requires, I cooked black-eyed peas and mustard greens on January 1. I used to make a pan of crackling bread to accompany my delicious New Year’s meal, but good cracklings have become hard to find.

Folks claim that the ingredients in the traditional New Year’s meal have symbolic meaning: the black-eyed peas bring coins, the greens bring dollars, and the corn bread brings gold. It’s certainly worth a try to eat a good meal in hopes of prosperity.

For extra measure, the second day of the year, I made Hoppin’ John from the leftovers.

Some sources say the recipe was named after a disabled man known as Hoppin’ John who sold peas and rice in Charleston. Other folks say it got its name because children hopped around the table in anticipation of getting their serving of the dish.

Linguists speculate that the name might have come from the French patois spoken in much of the Caribbean where a similar dish called “pwahahpeejawng” was popular. As time passed, the name might well have been pronounced phonetically by English speakers to sound like “Hoppin’ John.”

Regardless of how it got its name or whether it will bring good fortune, sautéed onion, garlic, green pepper, and celery, mixed with a little cayenne, brings black-eyed peas and rice to a whole new level of good.

Marian Carcache

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