We always called it hoppin' john. But then, we also ate sauerkraut for good luck on New Year's Day. It symbolizes... uh... money. And farts.
Though, in all seriousness, beans, lentils, and other legumes have long--by which I mean for thousands of years, in many different cultures--symbolized wealth. When famine is a real and frequent occurrence, you tend to value foods that are nutritious, filling, and last a long time without spoiling, as dried beans, peas, and lentils do.
Really interesting Skip. In Italy they eat lentils at this time of year with the same rationale, ie. symbolise money.
In Australia we call them black-eye beans and I have a really good recipe given to me by Xxxx who learned it from Xxxx who was stationed in Xxxx during the Second World War. Maybe I'll post it when things have sorted themselves out. But I love these peas and they make good sprouts too :-)
Blackeyed peas (or in some circles blackeye peas) cooked with rice. Traditionally served on New Year's Day along with ham and greens for good luck during the next year. Blackeyed peas represent coins, the greens represent folding money, and ham symbolizes good luck, according to my mom...