By Rachel Quartarone

I love being a Southerner. We are a superstitious lot, and one thing that I always have to have on New Year’s Day is beans and greens.  I think the year would just seem off kilter if I didn’t have a plate of steamy collard greens and black eyed peas, flavored with copious amounts of bacon, of course. Growing up, I always heard that greens represent greenbacks and black eyed peas represent coins. The more you eat, the richer you’ll be in the coming year.  

Last year my whole family was stricken with strep throat, and despite barely being able to swallow, I still felt compelled to eat beans and greens on New Year’s Day. I pulled myself out of bed to boil a big pot of collards and cook some dried peas. My need to fulfill this tradition that I didn’t really understand inspired me to start a blog about Southern foodways and family memories, called Time for Good Food.
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I found out that the tradition goes way back – even further back than I thought. In fact, eating black-eyed peas is a Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) tradition that can be traced back to 500 C.E.  Meanwhile, some Southerners claim that the practice of eating black-eyed peas and greens became a New Year’s tradition just after the Civil War as humble field peas and greens were all that was left behind after Union troops plundered the land. For the South, these foods came to represent resilience and renewal. (For more on my findings, see this post: http://timeforgoodfood.blogspot.com/2011/01/i-dream-of-peas.html.)

Given the great melting pot of American culture, I wouldn’t be surprised if the tradition was born from several ethnic traditions. Wherever it comes from, if you’re like me and have to get your fix of beans and greens on New Year’s Day (and beyond), there are several Atlanta restaurants that will be happy to oblige. 

The Colonnade
Serving Southern-style comfort food since 1927, The Colonnade is always hopping on New Year’s Day. Of course, collard greens and black-eyed peas are regularly on the menu here, but not always as lucky. 

1879 Cheshire Bridge Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30324
404/874-5642
www.colonnadeatl.com

Mary Mac’s Tea Room
Another old favorite, Mary Mac’s is already legendary for its collard greens. Insiders know that the restaurant will gladly provide you with a complementary bowl of pot liquor if you ask. While pork is a traditional accompaniment to beans and greens, fried chicken is also perfectly acceptable!

224 Ponce De Leon Ave. NE
Atlanta, GA 30308-1938
404/876-1800
www.marymacs.com

Atlanta Grill – Ritz Carlton Downtown
Black eyed peas for brunch? You bet! If you want to start off the new year in style, the Ritz Carlton’s famous brunch buffet will feature peas and collard greens along with their traditional brunch standards. And there’s a Bloody Mary bar!

181 Peachtree Street, NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
404/659-0400
www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Atlanta/Dining/AtlantaGrill/Menu.htm

South City Kitchen 
For updated Southern classics, South City Kitchen does it right. While garlic sautéed collard greens are always on the menu, they’ll also be offering black eyed peas to complete the traditional Southern meal. Open for brunch and dinner. 

(Midtown Location)
1144 Crescent Ave 
Atlanta, Georgia 30309
404/873-7358
www.southcitykitchen.com

Rachel Quartarone's blog is http://timeforgoodfood.blogspot.com

 


Comments

06/25/2013 03:43

Last year my whole family was stricken with strep throat, and despite barely being able to swallow, I still felt compelled to eat beans and greens on New Year’s Day. I pulled myself out of bed to boil a big pot of collards and cook some dried peas. My need to fulfill this tradition that I didn’t really understand inspired me to start a blog about Southern foodways and family memories, called Time for Good Food.


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