Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Good Luck Food

Posted December 30, 2009

What’s on your menu the next couple of days? Well, if you were born in the South odds are you might be cooking up a mess of collard greens, cornbread and black eyed peas.

Chef Jay Pierce at Lucky 32 in Cary says good luck foods sprang up after the Civil War. Union troops passed over the peas thinking they were cattle fodder during their victory across the South in the waning days of the conflict. The peas are symbolic of coins. Collard greens represent folding money. Cornbread is supposed to bring you gold.

Jay is putting Southern Good Luck Fare on his Cary menu but admits the concept has a much stronger following in Greensboro where Lucky 32 has an older and more established restaurant. Of course, you’ve heard the jokes about Cary being “Containment Area for Relocated Yankees.”

Still I think it’s important to immerse ourselves in the culture around us. Maybe Southern Good Luck Food will finally catch on this year in Cary.

What about you? What are your traditions? Please share.


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  • jglusco Jan 1, 2010

    My husband and I were raised on pork and sauerkraut -- and both hated it every year. When we got together, we started a new tradition. We'll be headed out tonight for our New Year's Day dinner of Chinese food. So far, our luck has held!

  • CestLaVie Dec 31, 2009

    P. S. Here's a good link re traditional good luck foods:

  • CestLaVie Dec 31, 2009

    Lentil soup. My mom always cooked a pot of lentil soup for new year's day. I don't know where the tradition came from; I never thought to ask her that part. She did say it was supposed to be for luck; that may have been the German tradition. But, my dad told me once that she cooked it early so she wouldn't have to cook on new year's day, which gave her a chance to relax too. I also suspect having this ready gave her a chance to recover from "celebrating" the night before! We were all free to help ourselves to some of this hot soup whenever we were ready to have it. It was delish & welcomed on usually cold, upstate NY winter days.

  • TheDude abides... Dec 31, 2009

    I've always heard that the pork had to be hog jowl.

  • IzzMad2016 Dec 31, 2009

    Hailing from Ohio and Indiana and Iowa, we always had pork and saurkraut on New Years Day. Mom always said it was so we'd have money in the New Year. She always made us eat at least 1 bite of the saurkraut. We gagged back then but all love it today. Mom really did always know best.

  • Wheelman Dec 31, 2009

    We'll have the collards, peas and corn bread. But, we do something in addition for good luck. New Years Eve we will put money under the mat at the front door (coins only). Then on New Years morning we go out and collect the money. The idea is to bring money into the home before taking money out. It's an old English custom that my mother-in-law (yes British) passed on to us. Can't say how effective it is other than keeping you hopeful for a prosperous one!

  • jetset Dec 31, 2009

    This year I will prepare mustard greens, barbequed (on the grill) Boston ham section, black eyed peas, sweet potato casserole and Jiffy Mix cornbread muffins. For added luck I place a shiny (and well cleaned!!) penny in one of the muffins before they are baked. Whoever gets the lucky muffin will have "extra" good luck in the New Year.

  • ageorgia Dec 30, 2009

    Grew up with greens,black eyed peas(topped with diced onions or chow chow),corn bread and some type of pork on New Years Day and have carried on that tradition with my family. Thinking the pork will be either baby backs or a roast.

  • Joani P. Dec 30, 2009

    Cooked collards w/ham hock for christmas will have something else for New Years not sure what yet! I don't believe in all that good luck stuff anyways.

  • brezinmjkm Dec 30, 2009

    Having been raised by parents and grandparents who grew up in Europe, the traditional New Years Day "must have" foods were sauerkraut soup and pancakes. I know that sounds weird and even made me think twice, when I actually made the soup myself many years ago for New Year's Day and it tasted really good. The folks who tried it with me were also amazed at the taste considering the name of the soup and most asked for doggie bowls and the recipe! The type of pancake is negotiable and we've had buttermilk, french, or pancake made from bisquick's the soup that makes the tradition!




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