I always thought that my Uncle Paul was the inspiration for Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham. Once every year he made a disgusting looking concoction of eggs, ham and who knows what else baked into a rubbery feast that he swore would bring good luck if consumed. For years I simply stared at the foul green creation that appeared to be more like a spongy sea creature than something worthy of placing in my mouth. It mattered not if luck would elude me because I did not have the inclination to risk eating something so strange.
One year I decided to screw up my courage and ingest just enough of it to form a more reliable opinion of its worth. To my utter surprise it was actually rather delicious despite its lime green hue and strange consistency. I eagerly sliced a bit more of the egg casserole hoping to increase my chances of having a very lucky year and learned that my long held fears of the dish had been as silly as one of Dr. Seuss’ rhymes.
My did prosperity did not seem to improve in spite of my willingness to be more adventurous in my eating habits, but I found myself looking forward to enjoying a slice of my uncle’s recipe for good luck in each new year. If nothing else it was one of the most unique renditions of what might have been a bit of good fortune that I have ever encountered.
My mother always served the tried and true southern tradition of black-eyed peas on New Years Day. Sadly I never really formed an attraction to that particular legume even though I am often called “The Bean Queen” due to my ability to transform virtually any variety of bean into a delicious feast. It was not until I spent my first New Years Day with my mother-in-law that I learned of a different member of the pea family that supposedly also had the power of bringing luck into any household that consumed it on the first day of the year.
It was the yellow split pea that transformed my world. I stood behind my mother-in-law each January 1, for many years learning the secrets of the alchemy that would change the tiny yellow bits into a smooth and delicious soup. Under her watchful care this traditional British dish became a delight for me and all of the members of my family. After she died I relied on the tutelage that she had so wisely given me to recreate the smooth golden soup that warms the body and the spirit.
On a visit to Austria during the New Years holiday a few years back, I learned that there are many iconic items that might be used to insure a happy and prosperous year. Of course there was the four leaf clover but also the lady bug and golden coins of chocolate. My favorite, however, was the pig. From that vacation forward I have collected a “lucky” pig to adorn my home each New Years Day. They are whimsical and joyful and easy to find in my travels. Who knew that there were so many different ways to attract luck into one’s life?
I’m not particularly superstitious. I’ve yet to find a food or trinket that ensures me that my life will be somehow better than it might otherwise have been. Not even a rabbit’s foot has any power over the unfolding of life’s events. It’s simply a fun thing to pretend that we can somehow change the unfolding of fate with a simple wish or the ingestion of some iconic food.
I often laugh at a memory that I have of attending the funeral of the mother of one of my Asian friends. The deceased woman was a Christian so the service included lots of prayers and readings from the Bible. At the conclusion of the memorial a few Buddhist traditions were also inserted into the mix. The deceased woman’s daughter commented that her mother had asked for both customs “just in case one was actually better than the other. “ She had not wanted to take any chances on choosing wrong in the her final goodbye to the world.
So as the old year fades away and the New Year beckons I have readied the little pink pig that I purchased in Santa Fe last summer along with a big pot of yellow split pea soup and some black-eyed peas “just in case.” We can all seriously use some better luck than what has come our way in the last two years. I’ll be most happy for a change in the right direction no matter from where it comes.
Wishing everyone a very Happy and Blessed New Year! May 2022, bring us together in love and good health.