What do good-looking men, lentils, no housework and kissing all have in common? According to superstition, they all bring good luck in the new year.
January seems to have more hopes pinned on it than any other month. As the first month of a brand new year, it has come to signify a clean slate, starting over and new beginnings. Many people will go to great lengths to ensure that they have a successful new year; therefore, numerous traditions have sprung up over the centuries.
For instance, the first person to step through your door on New Year’s Day should be a good-looking, dark-haired man. He has to knock and be let in, be carrying a piece of coal (so that your house will always be warm), a loaf of bread (to ensure that your household will always have food), money (obvious) and greenery (for long life). This individual brings extra luck if he comes on a horse.
Just about everyone has heard of New Year’s superstitions surrounding food. On our first New Year’s Day as a married couple, The Husband informed me that I had to prepare black eyed peas and hog jowls, or we would be doomed for the next 365 days.
Hog jowls? I think I looked at him as if a man on a horse with groceries and cash had just knocked on my front door. He may as well have asked me to personally pickle some pig’s feet. Turns out, eating pork is lucky because pigs eat moving forward, thus guaranteeing that you will also move forward in the next year. I managed to convince my husband that any part of a pig would do, not just the jowls.
Black eyed peas bring riches and safety. I wonder if the more you eat, the more riches you will have? Even if that’s not the case, these warm, spicy black eyed peas will be finding their way onto our New Years Day dinner table. I love the ethnic flavors the cumin, coriander, and saffron lends to a traditionally Southern staple.
Black Eyed Peas with Saffron
- 1 ½ cups frozen black-eyed peas
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ medium Spanish onion diced
- 1 medium garlic clove minced
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper
In a large saucepan, bring six cups of water to a boil. Return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and boil until peas are tender, about 25-45 minutes. Drain peas, reserving ⅓ cup of the cooking liquid. Set peas aside.
In the same saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, saffron, cumin, coriander, and one teaspoon of salt. Cook until onion is tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add reserved cooking liquid, scraping up and browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until liquid is almost absorbed, about two minutes. Add the peas and stir until mixture is combined and heated through. Add parsley, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Season with salt and pepper.