This is what I will be eating tomorrow. As a transplanted midwesterner, I have a weird relationship with southern food culture. On my first day of elementary school I did not recognize any of the food on my lunch tray. There were grits, greens, and ham (all freshly made in the cafeteria kitchen). When I worked at my first corporate job, several women threw me a party with the intent of introducing me to all the southern delicacies I was ignorant of.
Many years later, I am coming around. I am now in bona fide love with collards and all other greens- albeit with out the hamhock. I can make a mean red velvet cake and might even be able to tell you the difference between Georgia and South Carolina BBQ. So, I look forward to ringing in the new year with black eyes peas (hoppin john), rice and collards. There might even be some sweet tea and a peach cobbler.
The New York Times just published a great piece on the cultural roots of this meal that will make it even more special as I remember the people who brought these foods to America from Africa. Read it here.
As I look forward to the new year, I am glad to have something so special that ties me to the past. I wish the same for you! Happy 2001!