According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the peas, which are actually a bean, are low in fat and sodium and contain no cholesterol. They are high in potassium, iron, and fiber and a half cup serving counts as one ounce of lean meat from the Food Pyramid.
They're available fresh, frozen, canned and dried. If they're dried, you'll have to soak them in water at least several hours before cooking.
Black-eyed peas, sometimes called cowpeas, likely came to the United States via the West African slave trade, according to the Web site www.foodreference.com. So did two other Southern favorites, yams and okra.
The Southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas and greens for good luck on New Year's Day came about during the Civil War, according to foodreference.com.
The beans were originally grown for animal feed, then as a staple for slaves. Union troops rampaging through the Confederate states toward the end of the war stole livestock and food and burned crops, but they left the peas alone because they weren't considered fit for eating. Hungry Southerners proved them wrong.
The peas also symbolize coins and the collard or turnip greens traditionally served with them represent paper money.
Other sources say that until after World War I, the tradition was kept mostly by the poor, because the middle class equated the peas with poverty and hardship.
Cooked mine last night with some spiral ham chunks. Yummmy!
For those of you who’ve never had them, they taste like dirt smells. :)
When I lived in California in the 70s I went all over the Valley looking for blackeyed peas at the grocery stores..for New Years...no luck.