Thursday, January 9, 2020

Blackeyed peas and collard greens and Auburn University

After living most of our lives in the South —- Mrs. RWP's family moved from Pennsylvania to North Carolina when she was 12 and mine moved from Rhode Island to Texas when I was 6 —- Mrs. RWP and I finally took a major step toward becoming true Southerners when we ate the following on New Year's Day:

Both of us have eaten collards and blackeyed peas before, mind you, but neither of us had ever bothered to eat them on New Year's Day. To Southern minds, this is rather like going to one’s local polling place on election day but not bothering to vote.

Eating blackeyed peas and collard greens on New Year's Day in the American South is a long-standing tradition, probably dating back to the Civil War (a.k.a. the Late Unpleasantness), which ended in 1865, more than 150 years ago. This is considered a long time in America, but it's only yesterday to those of you who can trace your family back to the reign of Ethelred the Unready. Eating collard greens and blackeyed peas on New Year’s Day is said to bring one not only good luck during the year but also lots of money. The collards represent paper money and the blackeyed peas represent coins. Collard greens taste terrible unless they are cooked with ham or served with vinegar, or both, but it is actually blackeyed peas that usually taste like paper money. We don't believe the superstition but we decided to join in the fun.

I thought these “seasoned Southern style” blackeyed peas were quite good, however, although a blogger friend tells me that Glory brand is toxic. I guess that’s why ice cream comes in both chocolate and vanilla. I didn't enjoy the canned chopped collard greens at all. I prefer fresh collards to canned. (Note. I don't care for turnip greens or mustard greens at all, nor is cornbread something I dream about, long for, or drool at the thought of. (Gracious, what a lot of prepositions.) Maybe I am not a true Southerner yet even though I have lived here in Texas, Florida, and Georgia for most of my life. I can hear some of you saying “Well, Texas isn’t the South, it’s the Southwest“ but it seceded, if that’s any qualification. The non-southern years of my life include six years in Rhode Island, three years in Nebraska, and three years in New York.)

We did something else during the last week of 2019 that should help qualify us as Southern in the minds of the unconvinced. While visiting our daughter's family in Alabama, we set foot on the campus of Auburn University for the very first time. In the distance in the photograph below is the oldest part of the campus including historic Samford Hall, now the Administration Building:

That is not a black-and-white picture. It was taken looking directly into the sun about four in the afternoon, not the best time to try to take a photograph. If you enlarge the photo and look closely at a sign near the opposite corner, you will see that it is indeed a color photo. I was standing in front of Toomers Corner, where Auburn fans go to have a lemonade after a home football victory.

Here's proof:

On November 30, 2019, Auburn (War Eagle!) defeated the University of Alabama (Roll, Tide!) 48-45 in this season's Iron Bowl. Auburn's stadium, better known locally as Pat Dye Field at Jordan-Hare Stadium, seats 87,000 people. Here's an aerial view of it empty.

Toomers Corner was quite busy on November 30th.

This is my 1803rd post. 1803 was the year Thomas Jefferson, America’s third President, purchased the Louisiana Territory from France, doubling the size of the United States.

This is Thomas Jefferson:

This isn't.


  1. Having just read this post and your previous post I'm now posted out and, like the azalea, thoroughly overwhelmed and confused.

    I have never heard of collard greens nor tasted blackeye peas (which look more like beans and, with a name of Hoppin' John, just totally confuse me even more).

    1865 is only about 60 years before my house was built.

    1. Graham, being "posted out" seems like a thinly-veiled complaint about the length of one's (my) posts. I could point out much longer posts in blogworld, but there would be no point in doing that. I will attempt to control my verbosity in the future, but I'm not promising anything!

      See how broadening blogging is? I had never heard of bubble and squeak either.

      I read a couple of days ago that Ian over at Shooting Parrots just moved to a house that was built in 1804. Only verifies what I said about Ethelred the Unready.

  2. I like Collard greens. Mustard greens a fuzzy so I don't eat them. I never cared for black-eyed peas either. I do love cornbread. I was aware of the custom for New Year cuisine but I did not know the reasons. Thank you.

    1. Emma, a food I cannot stand is boiled okra. Do you have that in Iowa? Fried is great but boiled? Yuck!

  3. Fun post! I have lived in parts of Virginia, my whole life so I think that makes me a southerner? My hillbilly roots enjoyed pinto beans and cornbread but I never liked black eyed peas or collard greens so I guess that is why I don't always have good fortune on New Years.
    Glad that you enjoyed your time at Auburn.

  4. My husband and I are both from the South originally and we still eat Black Eyed Peas every New Years. Actually we eat them occasionally the rest of the year too just because we like them. We don't care for the collard greens though but my father loved them. That is a very southern dish. I grew up on pinto beans and cornbread, another southern favorite.

    I'm still trying to figure out what the ancient King of England, Ethelred the Unready, has to do with all this! ;)

    1. Bonnie, I have readers in England who post about churches from the 12th century and 400-year-old pubs. As I mentioned to Graham Edwards above, Ian over at Shooting Parrots just moved into a house that was built in 1804. The point is, from their perspective what we think of as old really isn't very.

      What part of the South are you and your husband from?

    2. I grew up in Arkansas and my husband grew up in South Carolina. We met here in Missouri and have lived here over forty years now. But we will both always be Southerners at heart!

  5. The last picture is of Ethelred the Unready. He needed that big sword to chop up spring greens which is what we sophisticated English folk call "collards". I would only ever eat fresh spring greens - never from a tin. Interestingly, Ethelred came from England's own Deep South and there is evidence that he was a fine banjo player.

    1. Yorky P., you almost had me believing you until the part about the banjo.

  6. Rhymes, why would you identify the photo that everyone knows (everyone in America anyway), but not the one that almost no one would know. Clue us in, won't you? Is he Charlemagne perhaps, and what is it that's supposed to make Glory brand toxic.

    I find that almost no one in Eugene, Oregon, knows what grits are, yet they're easily found in stores. However, upon discovering that polenta (a coarsely-ground version of grits) can be bought in the bulk foods section, I never again bought boxed grits.

  7. Snowbrush, in response to your question as to why would I identify the photo that everyone knows but not the one that almost no one would know, the only answer I can come up with is "I'm funny that way"....obviously the august personage is Ethelred the Unready, whom I mentioned in the post. Yorkshire Pudding identified him correctly in the comment before yours, but just about everything else he said about him he made up. He's funny that way, too, only in a different way from the way I'm funny. I hope this explanation suffices.

    I never really ate grits until I came to Georgia, never in Texas and never in Florida. I prefer grits with a twist, such as in cheese and grits, or shrimp and grits, the latter being more of a Low Country (i.e., South Carolina) specialty. I don't think I have ever tried polenta, but I have tried quinoa and edamame, neither of which is anything like either grits or, I'm guessing, polenta.


"the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America"

Today is July the twoth second. One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams of Massachusetts, who later became our ...