Being a southern boy, it’s what we do. You can’t dismiss your traditions and heritage. You’re either in, or you’re not. Black eyed peas and collard greens are a staple on New Year’s Day. Heaven help the man who refuses. And you could try, you certainly could, but…that risks inviting bad luck, doesn’t it?
Don’t get me wrong. I love black eyed peas and collard greens. But, as they were simmering away on the stove in their usual, annual, bubbling boredom, I felt the need to think of something new to do. We’ve been doing a lot of that these days, Phillip and I. We’ve been looking for ways to take our normal days and skew them just slightly enough to make them interesting. New horizons and explorations don’t have to be taken extravagantly.
So, one of our favorite Youtube channels is Manjula’s Kitchen. We LOVE her Indian recipes, her cooking, and her very endearing spirit. She seems like an incredibly kind lady. Now, neither of us has ever attempted to cook Indian food before. Not sure why, but there are many things I like that I’ve never attempted to do. I’d like to figure out why….
Anyway! We were reminded of one of her recipes we had seen for black eyed peas and decided to give it a go. Right there in the kitchen, we pulled up her recipe for black eyed peas, peeked in the cupboard and said, “Dammit, let’s do it!”
And it was actually pretty simple. We had all the ingredients on hand. Cumin, ginger, onion, tomato, crushed red pepper, curry and garam masala. (I know you’re asking, “Who the hell has garam masala?” Well, I do! I love the flavor! It’s far too expensive to buy, but when I see it half off at the supermarket, I snag it).
We sat down to eat, our plates smack with all the trimmings. Side of ham, cornbread (I threw some chives in the cornbread for personality) and white rice. Man….WOAH! MAN! Those black eyed peas were FREAKIN’ awesome. Rich, exotic, new and so warm on the taste buds. After just a few bights of dinner we looked at each other and said, “Screw New Years, we’re having this once a week.”
I’m glad I was able to step out of one tradition and explore something new without tarnishing an old staple of family history. Now, I know some of my southern contemporaries will be screaming, “That’s not right! You can’t do that!” To that I can only reply, the rule book said you have to eat black eyed peas….it didn’t say HOW.
It was nice to start the New Year with a simple exploration into the unknown, give it a whirl, try something slightly new without disrupting the patterns and habits that life can sometimes make a little too easy for us. It’s nice to find a new pool of thought and dip our toes into it, just to see how inviting the waters might be. And I’m thinking the waters of the New Year will be warm and loving.
Oh! And the collard greens? No, we don’t need to mess with them. They’re brilliant as they are…. 😉
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