New Year's Day in Georgia means one thing. A plate of black-eyed peas & greens. They say the peas are for luck and the greens are for money in the coming year. The greens might be collards, mustard or turnip greens. City folk, or newcomers trying to fit in, might even eat spinach. I don't condone such an alteration of tradition but to each his own. As always, we'll have cornbread with our legumes pursuant to Georgia Code 1-1-1. Rules are rules. And of course, the pig has his role. Somewhere in there you'll find a hog jowl, a ham hock, streak-o-lean, fatback, salt pork, maybe even a pig ear or foot for the really dedicated.
There's a legend, that may or may not be apocryphal, that goes with this tradition. It's plausible and also the 150th anniversary of the legend, so it's worth a mention.
150 years ago this fall, Sherman marched across Georgia. And unlike the historical revision on the Georgia Historical Society's new Scalawag Sign on Sherman's March to the Sea, they crossed the state, from Rome to Savannah, like a swarm of locusts, stealing everything that wasn't nailed down and half of everything that was. The rest they just burned.
But there was something they disregarded. A very important something. As Georgians stood in the smoldering ruins looking at what remained, they found that Sherman's army had turned their nose up at the peas and greens. Thinking it all silage for the animals they had carried off to eat themselves. The Yanks left these tasty morsels behind.
What the blue-clad bandits didn't realize is that it is not the cow's food. It's our food! So Georgians ate black-eyed peas and collards and whatever pork scraps the Yankees had refused to tote off. They washed it down with well water or "Confederate Coffee." And they survived. And then they rebuilt.
They also remembered. And, like the Hebrew Passover, they kept the tradition. They passed it to the next generation and told the story of when the plague came and God provided.
So tomorrow, we'll eat peas and greens. And we'll talk about it here. See you then!
For some time now I have wanted to expand my blog into a full site that would enable me to pursue my larger vision for All the Biscuits in Georgia. Thanks to a new team effort, that hope is now reality.
We are in the process of archiving the stories and posts that need to find their way over to the new site. We are also setting up new ways to integrate photography and other social media from Instagram, YouTube, and beyond. We have plans to expand the perspective of this site to include more areas of Southern culture that deserve to be celebrated and preserved.
I'm pretty sure we've dealt with that pesky readers' comments section that has been a thorn in our side for so long now. So feel free to join in on the discussion.
Our contact section is now open. So if you have an idea for a post or a topic you'd like to us to explore, drop us a line and we'll see what we can whip up. As always, we will offer our Georgian perspective unapologetically.
The Sage. I call him this because the man can carry on an intelligent conversation about practically any subject. He has also been a source of wise counsel for me for quite some time. Since this is a season for shopping, I thought it would be a great opportunity to share my experience of shopping with the Sage.
He was my captain. We were in town shopping for our food and such that we needed for our 24 hour duty shift. I was driving the engine and had just pulled out of the parking lot headed back to the station when he asked if I knew where a certain scrapyard was. It was just down the road from the station. Of course I knew where it was. "Stop by there on the way back, if you don't mind. They have a truck I want to look at."
Time for some explanation into the Sage's automobile purchasing philosophy. First of all, automobiles are made by General Motors. They are almost always pick up trucks. This is the "given" that you have to account for when starting the formula for determining a purchase. The formula itself, after accounting for the given, consists of three rules.
The Sage's Automobile Purchase Rules:
1) You never pay more than $1000 for anything that has wheels and rolls down the road.
2) If the headlight dimmer switch is not under your left foot, it's too new.
3) If you can crank it up and drive it home, you paid too much.
These simple rules explain why we were truck shopping in a scrapyard.
I watched as he approached a man operating a front end loader and waved. There was that moment of stress that you feel in any such interaction, wondering which way it could go. This could be a polite conversation that leads to a mutual understanding and a deal. But it could also deteriorate into two corn-fed men beating each other with scrap metal.
The Sage pointed over toward a corner of the yard and hollered. The man hollered back from his seat. The Sage nodded his agreeable nod. Then the man jumped down from the front-end loader. I was rehearsing the radio traffic in my mind "Dispatch, I need a police unit down here to get my captain off this poor scrap metal guy." Did I mention the Sage is built like a grizzly bear?
They disappeared around a pile for a minute. And then the Sage reappeared with a smile. He had purchased a Chevy pickup, Sea foam green by years of Georgia sunlight much more than by design. It had a 2 x 6 board for a front bumper. He also got a transmission, an extra windshield, and a few other parts for about $400. "And he's gonna tow it to the house. It will be there when I get home. We were just in time. He was about to crush it.".
That was ten years ago. This truck is still in the Sage's fleet. He keeps about ten trucks on hand at all times. I asked him what a single man does with that many trucks, he told me "I go outside and get in one. If it doesn't start, I just get in another one and worry about it when it is convenient to." That's the upside to the three rules. And when one gets too far gone even for his use. he parts them out and then sells the rest for scrap.
Probably not much shopping like that going on out there today but if you see someone that looks like Grizzly Adams driving an old Chevy pickup, tell him I said Hi & Merry Christmas.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire