New Years Day is nearly here and there are some Southern Traditions I plan to uphold; one of them being Cajun Hopin’ John along with a few other delicious Old Southern traditions. Hopin John like most Southern foods has a rich history to be told.
Now, traditionalists may have a few words to say about my recipe, and that’s ok we all have our own specific traditions and family recipes we enjoy making. The original ingredients used to make Hoppin’ John were simple: one pound of bacon, one pint of peas, and one pint of rice.You couldn’t get any more straightforward or traditional than that back in the day.
In Sarah Rutledge’s The Carolina Housewife -1847, it’s important to know that everything was cooked together in the same pot. “First put on the peas, and when half boiled, add the bacon. When the peas are well boiled, throw in the rice, which must first be washed and graveled. When the rice has boiled half an hour, take the pot off the fire and put it on coals to steam, as in boiling rice alone.”
Traditionally Hoppin’ John was considered to be a Low Country menu item before becoming popular and spreading to the entire Southern region. Hoppin’ John is said to have evolved from the rice and bean mixtures that were made and consumed of enslaved West Africans en route to America. Hoppin’ John has also been traced to similar menu items in West Africa, such as the Senegalese dish, thiebou niebe.
One common tradition here; is that each person at the meal should leave three peas on their plate to make sure that the coming year will be filled with luck, fortune, and romance. Another tradition holds that counting the number of peas in a serving predicts the amount of luck or wealth that one may expect have in the coming year. I’ll take any of traditional outcomes; personally, I could use luck, fortune, and plenty of romance in the coming year