Black-eyed peas and collards: They work

Ronda Rich's picture

Now, I’ve been telling y’all for a few years about the importance of eating your black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Year’s Day and how by doing so, you’ll have more money in the coming year.

Some of y’all have believed me. Some of y’all haven’t. Same as with all the other things I tell you: there are both believers and nay-sayers.

One year I told you how Mama and Daddy had always upheld the tradition religiously. They survived every economic downturn with a mere shrug of the shoulders.

Another year I told you how late NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt practiced it to the point of calling his son, Dale, Jr., and warning him, “If you don’t eat ‘em, you won’t have any money next year.” Apparently, both of them ate a lot of black-eyed peas and collard greens.

Still another year, I wrote of attending the New Year’s brunch on Sea Island, a wealthy enclave, where the mighty and successful ate so much of the fabled food that the buffet line was depleted. I might add here that the following year the rich got richer.

But I know that some of y’all are scientific types. It has to be proven to you. You’re the same ones who still question whether man really walked on the moon and are mighty suspicious about UFOs and global warnings. You doubt that babies can be weaned from pacifiers by paying heed to the signs of the moon.

This probably pertains to many folks on Wall Street who never figured that a good helping of Southern comfort food could improve economic situations. I have serious doubts that any of them were eating black-eyed peas and collard greens last year. And you know what happened there.

So for all of you doubters, I conducted a scientific experiment last New Year’s Day. I ate black-eyed peas and collard greens from morning to night and I kept a diary. Starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 8 p.m., I had six helpings of the vegetables that, according to Southern superstition, represent dollars (green collards) and cents (black-eyed peas).

I was proud of my record-keeping, tracking to see if it would turn out to be true: That the more I ate, the more monetary success I’d have in 2008.

“Oh, my goodness!” Mama exclaimed when we talked at lunch and she heard what I was up to. “I never heard of such. Are you going to eat collards and peas all day long?”

“I sure am,” I replied firmly. “Every couple of hours, I’m eating them. I even had them for breakfast.”

“If you do that, you won’t be rich. You’ll be sick.”

I wasn’t sick, but I was stuffed. By bedtime, I was convinced that I wouldn’t eat for the next two days. But I was eager to prove something to myself and to both the believers and the non-believers.

For the past decade, ever since Mama had first convinced me to give the tradition a try, I had profited from it. Perhaps it was coincidence. Perhaps it was the imaginative use of faith. Whatever it was, it seemed to be working.

Previously, I increased my helpings of the fabled food each year, even though I’m not fond of greasy collard greens. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a big believer in grease. After all, my roots are so Southern that my forefathers were Revolutionary soldiers. I just don’t like greasy collard greens. Now, I sauté them in olive oil and I love them. Nonetheless, every year I ate more than the previous year and every year, the dollars and cents increased.

So, how’d last year’s experiment work? Did the bi-hour feedings pay off?

Let’s just put it this way: It worked so well that this year, I’ll be eating them hourly.

Just call me superstitious. Or real smart.

[Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of “What Southern Women Know About Flirting” and “The Town That Came A-Courtin’.” She lives near Gainesville, Ga. Sign up for her newsletter at]

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Submitted by dollaradayandno... on Thu, 01/01/2009 - 4:52am.

It appears that NOONE ate the garbage food last New Years!

I think your notion is fallible!

Phil Whitley's picture
Submitted by Phil Whitley on Thu, 01/01/2009 - 12:54am.

Ronda, we always teased my grandmother when she cooked collards. If they tasted anything like they smell while they are cooking in the "Presto Cooker" as she called it, no one would have ever eaten them. We told her we knew that she was cooking collards `cause the buzzards were circling her house!

Our New Years's tradition was "hawg" jowl and black-eyeed peas, accompanied by turnip greens and pot likker with a big pone of cornbread for sopping. (Can't forget the Vidalia onion)

Speaking of things that are good eating in spite of the odor while cooking... ever had chitlins'?

HAPPY NEW YEAR, my friends!

Phil (friends call me Brew)

Submitted by mysteryman on Wed, 12/31/2008 - 8:00pm.

Rhonda what a prophet you are you could give Nostradamus a run for the money, we will all be eating this delicous meal everyday when we all are out on the street, for it will be all we can afford.. Im sure your revolutionary war forefathers must be turing in their graves, to watch us squander this great nation and pawn it off to the highest bidder..GOD BLESS

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