A Bit Of Southern Tradition

I am not a southerner by birth. Wait, I was born in Texas so maybe I am a southerner by birth. I was however raised up in Illinois, which makes me a northerner transplant. But then after moving around to Iowa, then back to Illinois, then to Arkansas, back to Iowa, and then finally to my location for nearly 40 years, Tennessee, I think  I’m just confused.

I guess since I’ve been here that long though, this makes me a southerner by birth, then a northerner transplant, then transplanted back to the south where I probably in some sense belonged anyway.

Well, having been raised for the most part in Iowa and Illinois I had some adapting to do when I arrived in Tennessee. There were things I was unaccustomed to. For instance where I live now they let kids out of school for the fish fry. Whut? Fish fry? Yes, the next town over by 15 miles is billed as having the “Worlds Largest Fish Fry” once a year. The kids get out of school for a fish fry. Unheard of from my perspective!

They also let the kids out of school when the carnival rolls into town. Whut? Fair day? Heck when I went to school we didn’t get out for no damn carnival, nor any fish fry. Hell it took 3 feet of snow and ice to cancel school. I don’t know how many times I walked to school in snow so deep it went over my boot tops. There were no pussies allowed when I went to school dammit! We showed up come hell or high water. Clint Eastwood and John Wayne would have been proud.

So, I eventually adapted. I came to understand these strange customs in a strange land. I still think it ridiculous, but I get it. Or at least shrug it off these days.

Consider it no surprise then when I adopted the custom of the “New Years Dinner” What the heck is that you ask? The New Years Dinner is an unlikely conglomeration of pork jowl, black eyed peas, and greens, usually spinach. You see the jowl is a metaphor for good health. (Healthy as a hog.) The greens a metaphor for wealth. (Greenbacks.) The black eyed peas a metaphor for luck, why I don’t know. Anyway it has become tradition for us to have the customary New Years Dinner.

Well pork jowl, peas, and greens seemed lacking to me. So many years back I added cornbread to the dinner. Which made a perfect addition to the meal. It just rounds it off nicely. So again many years ago, when I was explaining this tradition to someone else, I explained all to them as I just have to you. Then they asked me what the cornbread was for? After 2 seconds of thought I replied, love. So there is our modified New Years tradition for what it’s worth.

But wait! There’s more! My wife was out and about and picked up some jowl for our traditional meal. This was prepackaged stuff “Cumberland Gap Hickory Smoked Jowl” This product was an absolute nightmare to cook. It popped grease 15 inches high and in all directions on low heat! I had to use some cling wrap to cover my jowl flipping arm and use a clear lid as a shield in my other hand. I have grease burns on both hands and arms and damn near lost an eye! I have never had such an unpleasant jowl cooking experience.

Then when it came time to make the cornbread we were short on corn meal. I just quickly adjusted the recipe a bit to compensate, so that particular disaster averted. In the end our traditional New Years meal was accomplished. Our years projection of health, luck, monetary fortune, and love met. Despite the trials, tribulations, and risking an Emergency Room visit.

Clint Eastwood and John Wayne would be proud. Now, where is the Aloe?

Happy New Year to all 🙂

 

 

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13 thoughts on “A Bit Of Southern Tradition

  1. Now THAT was informative. .. interesting. ..and entertaining!

    Gotta love traditions! We have one that mystifies most visitors. Birthdays see us greasing the birthday person’s nose. . . always when least expected, of course! It can be a bit of a mess for recipients who wear glasses! (I think it’s so they can slide easily into the next year. . .which, come to think of it, could apply for New Year’s Eve as well!)

  2. Now that was a fine story.
    Happy new year buddy and my best wishes to family

  3. Happy New Year to you, too!

    I thought cornbread stood for humor or maybe that was corn pone. Southerners seem another species sometimes. Close relatives but queer folk, if you get my drift. Shucks, they’re just ordinary folks … egad, I’ve caught it … the southern disease! Actually I remember when my sister and her husband and her children went to live in South Carolina. Within a short time, my sister had a southern drawl, that she has not entirely lost forty years later. I do think that, in spite of the fact she was born in Central California, she was destined to be a southerner. So, maybe your status is not due to where you were planted or transplanted, it might just be a sate of mind.

    On Mon, Jan 2, 2017 at 8:22 AM, Evidence Based Reality wrote:

    > shelldigger posted: “I am not a southerner by birth. Wait, I was born in > Texas so maybe I am a southerner by birth. I was however raised up in > Illinois, which makes me a northerner transplant. But then after moving > around to Iowa, then back to Illinois, then to Arkansas, back” >

  4. Happy Blue New Year, SD. I’ve lived in the South a good portion of my adult life, but I have never felt like a southerner, and never will. I lived in California, Colorado, and Maryland for most of my childhood.

    I’ve never prepared that tradition on New Year’s. While I generally love legumes, I’m not a fan of black-eyed peas. This is the first time I’ve ever heard of spinach being used in this southern tradition. Usually, it’s either collards greens, mustard greens or turnip greens.

    I thought you might find this tidbit of trivia interesting:

    “Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s has been considered good luck for at least 1,500 years. According to a portion of the Talmud written around 500 A.D., it was Jewish custom at the time to eat black-eyed peas in celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

    It’s possible that the tradition arrived in America with Sephardic Jews, who first arrived in Georgia in the 1730s. According to common folklore, the tradition spread after the Civil War.The Northern Army considered the black-eyed peas to be suitable only for animals, so they didn’t carry away or destroy the crops.”

    Here’s to cornbread. 🙂

    • I really don’t know if I feel like a southerner or not. Mostly I’d disagree with anything a true southerner would say or do, but I’m still here. Probably has more to do with the hassle of moving than anything lol!

      Thank you very much for that history lesson, that explains a lot.

      We aren’t having any collard greens, turnip greens, or mustard greens thank you 😉 I don’t recall if I picked up this tradition with spinach already substituted for “other” greens of if I just changed that off the bat…

      And “hell yeah” to cornbread.

      • I definitely dig the idea of spinach. I eat it on a regular basis, usually fresh. But, cooking it only takes a few minutes, as opposed to collards, turnips and mustard greens that take quite a while to get tender.

        Gotta laugh at the irony of this traditional meal. The South has the highest poverty, poorest health, and the worst luck. Maybe they should think about changing up the menu. Lol

  5. Sounds pretty damn tasty to me! Happy New Year.

  6. My grandmother always followed this tradition, although it was usually ham, collards, and black-eyed peas. She had heard that you would have one day of good luck in the year for every black-eyed pea eaten, so she would carefully count out and eat 365 of them. For an elderly lady, that was quite a lot of beans in one day. But she lived to be a hundred, so they didn’t do her any harm.

    Of all the legumes, black-eyed peas are one of my least favorites. So in our family we have made a tradition of NOT eating them at New Year’s. That’s been a really easy tradition to keep.

    • My grandmother lived to see 100 as well. She didn’t make 101. But I got to see her for 100 🙂

      I must be the oddball out then, I actually like black eyed peas. The only bean or pea I can think of offhand that I do not care for is kidney beans.

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