Well, here it is, New Year's Eve ... the last day of 2008. Tomorrow a whole new year begins. Regardless of how you feel about that, there is one simple step you can take within the next 24 hours to help ensure that 2009 is a stellar year:
According to Southern tradition, if you want to have good luck and prosperity for the coming year, the first food you should eat in the New Year is black eyed peas.
(Southerners are maybe a little confused. These so-called peas are actually beans.)
You can cook and eat them in a variety of ways -- cooked with ham-hocks (deep south traditional method), spicy with ham and rice ("Hoppin' John"), cooked with greens, cooked with tomatoes, in a salad, or straight out of the can -- however you like them (and even if you don't like them, you are not excused from eating them). But the essential ingredient is the black eyed peas themselves. Don't start thinking you can just eat the ham that was cooked with the black eyed peas and get the same effect.
Also, don't ignore this as a silly Southern superstition. One year my best-ever friend ignored my pleas to eat the peas, and then got into a car accident on her way home on New Years Day. Fortunately, she was sober, it was daylight, and she wasn't hurt. But unfortunately, she did have to pay to get the car repaired. She told me she would eat her black eyed peas every New Years Day from that year forward. As far as I know, she has avoided additional car wrecks.
Because the black-eyed peas must be the very first thing you eat in the new year in order to be the most effective, I highly recommend eating them just after your midnight champagne toast to the New Year, so that you won't forget, in your drunken stupor, and eat something dumb like chocolate or peanuts or french fries or other bar food before you consume the all-important black eyed peas. So if you are going out somewhere and/or you don't have time to cook them to your liking at home, bring along a can, a can opener, and a spoon, and then just open them up and eat a spoonful with your midnight glass of champagne.
Assuming you can do so without blowing your grits immediately afterwards.
Because the second Southern tradition / superstition I want to remind you of is the one that says that whatever you are doing on New Year's Eve / Day is a predictor of what you will be doing the rest of the year.
Good luck and happy new year to you all, my bloggy friends!