I Ain’t Superstitious

I didn’t grow up with any New Years food superstitions. My mother was a sensible Midwesterner and my father wanted to leave the past in the rear view mirror. He openly derided Greek folk myths such as the evil eye. One of his Greek Greek cousins, Sophia, was a firm believer in the evil eye. Once my mom got overheated and nearly fainted in the crowded Athenian market place of Monostiraki. Sophia was adamant that it was the evil eye and insisted on making some sort of stinky poultice. My mom gave in and let Sophia apply it even though she was overheated and not cursed. It was over 100 degrees. My father was horrified and, typically, blamed my mother for being too nice. Never blame a Greek when there was a non-Greek around to take the fall. So it goes.

That was a long way of getting to my refusal to go along this year with Southern New Years food superstitions. One is supposed to eat black-eyed peas, cabbage, and corn bread; all three of which I like but I do not consider lucky. The only thing that particular combination has ever brought me is gas and I have no desire to be the Mr. Methane of New Orleans. There are some regional variations: one friend insists that one should eat greens as opposed to cabbage. That made me hot around the collard because she’s Irish and should be a cabbage head…

The other reason we did not eat the superstition grub is that we had leftover black beans. I’m not sure if the Cubans consider them to be good luck but they taste good. Dr. A picked up some brisket from our neighborhood barbecue joint and she thinks brisket should be the next New Years sensation. I suspect that will go over as well as Calvin Trillin’s perennial suggestion that spaghetti carbonara replace turkey on Thanksgiving menus. Even though I stand in solidarity with Trillin’s fanatical opposition to fruitcake, I’ve never tried this. Yet.

I’m in recovery mode from the holidays so I don’t feel like researching food superstitions. Any of you lot have any or know of any? Hmm, I wonder what cannibals do? They may eat hammy actors for New Years, which means that John Lithgow should keep his distance.

I’ll give Howlin’ Wolf and the Jeff Beck Group the last word:

7 thoughts on “I Ain’t Superstitious

  1. For the first time ever I ate black eyed peas on New Year’s day, but only because it was the easiest thing to do that went with rice and a smothered pork chop…

  2. Only New Year’s food superstition I know is of Jewish origins, and it is eating a piece of herring as the year changes. Now I’m Jewish, and never heard of this one until my mother-in-law told me on my first New Year’s at her home after I married her daughter…

  3. My Mom always eats sauerkraut and wieners on New Year’s Day. She has always done this and when we were kids we were subjected to it by default. Our family comes from Ohio, by the way. Anyway, it never seems to bring much luck, if you ask me. This year I was not forced to eat it – I reheated leftovers – but wound up eating a few bites anyway. Guess I am more superstitious than I thought. But I did finally ask her why. She said it was just something that was always done. Her mother did it and her grandmother did it before that. No clue where this bizarre tradition originated though.

    1. Given that it’s ohio, and sauerkraut, it’s probably german in origin…this is the proper way (and this is also an Ohio recipe):

      Brown a few thick pork chops, mix with a bunch of pepper, a couple 2-lb bags of fresh sauerkraut (A completely different critter than that canned crap!), a large can of whole tomatoes, broken up, and a pound or so of kielbasa cut into 2-3″ pieces.

      (optionally you can also add a few peeled and quartered potatoes)

      Put it all in a heavy enameled pot or baking dish, cover and bake in the oven for 3-4 hours at 325-350.

      I hated sauerkraut until my wife made this for me. This only happened to be what we made for New years this year, but your post reminded me.

      1. Wow – thanks for that! But my mom swears that the one years she had it with pork chops – t was a disastrous year. She never deviated from the wieners again! LOL

  4. I didn’t even know there were New Year’s foods. I think maybe I need to visit this planet more often. But, mmmm, salt herring. Sauerkraut. New Yukon Gold potatoes. Man. Now I’m hungry.

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