Monday, December 28, 2009

Roots and rituals.

How was the holiday? Does your arm hurt from all that Wii action? Are your pants a liiiiiiittle tight this morning??? Mine sure are! I destroyed every hollowed out loaf of bread with spinach dip inside it from here to the Alleghenies.
We spent the weekend in West Virginia (save your kissing cousin cracks; I've heard them all a hundred thousand times before and furthermore, my cousins are for the most part wildly unattractive, overzealous religious fanatics or just totally unkissable...). I love WV in all of it's backwards glory. I love southern foods and traditions (though I hail from ABOVE the Mason Dixon Line) and I'd like to share a tiny piece of my family's heritage with you.

It's my grandmother's (Big Ma's) New Year's Day tradition and she would box my ears from the great beyond if I didn't prepare it annually. Black eyed peas, cabbage, collared greens and cornbread on the first day of every year is said to bring you good luck and prosperity. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with a ceremonial "cleansing" of the system.... but, ummm, thats one of the ritual's "perks".

I steam the greens in a big pot with a giant slab of bacon and force friends and neighbors to indulge. They're generally terrified at first. (Why does cabbage scare people so? It's not as if I'm asking them to eat chitlins and pickled pig's feet, sheesh, grow a pair...). After a few bites the fear dissipates and it's replaced with a newfound addiction to soul food. If you ask me, nothing says "Happy New Year" like black eyed peas and a slab of swine... MAN, I wish we'd make bacon flavored gelato... We ask all the time but, the Reitanos are very ANTI-meat based gelati. Party poopers. ;) Curb your craving with a pint of our Sea Salt Gelato in the meantime, we'll keep begging.

Whatever your traditional or non-traditional New Year's palate requires, I hope it finds you in good health and among family and friends. Happy Holidays, friends and don't worry about the extra pounds. I'd take bacon over a bikini any day.


  1. In New Orleans (and elsewhere in the South) it's called Hoppin' John. A few bowls of it with some ice cold bottles of Dixie (or Abita if you're fancy) makes for a mighty fine New Years day and helps to cure your wicked hangover.

  2. I love this post so so so much. Please write more like this one. Mayhaps it is because I relish the fact that we share some redneck blood.