The Lowcountry’s traditional Hoppin’ John New Year’s dish

Field peas for Hoppin’ John dinner | Photo via @destinycommunitycafe

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After the wild ride that was 2020, we’re all ready for a nice + easy 2021. To help ensure that this next year goes a bit smoother than the past year, consider diving into a serving of Hoppin’ John, a traditional Gullah Geechee dish that originated in South Carolina all the way back in the early 1800s. 🥘

This recipe, typically consisting of field peas, pork + rice, is rumored to bring good luck to those who eat it on New Year’s Day. While no one quite knows how this rumor first started, it eventually became custom to hide a shiny coin in the pot of cooked peas. The person who receives the helping that holds the coin secures a full year of extra prosperity + good will.

Like its promise of luck, the dish’s name is also shrouded in years of mystery + folklore, passed down from former generations. Some believe that the term “Hoppin’ John” began with excited children jumpingor hopping – around the kitchen table before sitting down to eat. Others tell the story of a crippled old man nicknamed “Hoppin’ John” selling this concoction of peas, pork + rice on the streets of downtown Charleston.

Whatever the truth may be, we are certain of one thing: gobbling up some Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day is a longtime Charleston tradition that cannot be skipped. You can visit local soul food restaurant Dave’s Carry-Out (42 Morris St.) to order a heaping side of Hoppin’ John or, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can grab your apron + get to cookin’. Below are a few Hoppin’ John recipes certain to make your New Year’s Day brighter and your 2021 luckier. 🍽


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