Eating Black Eyed Peas and Rice is a New Year’s Eve tradition popular in the Caribbean and parts of the American South. This culinary tradition originated in West Africa where rice and several varieties of cowpeas were cultivated for millennia in modern day Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
Both of these crops, as well as yams were easy to store and could be prepared with ease so that slavers used them as rations on slave ships. Enslaved Africans were familiar with both growing and cooking rice and peas and dishes with these ingredients developed into similar comfort food with slight variations in the American South and the West Indies.
Eating Black Eyed Peas and Rice at the end of the year supposedly brings luck in the new year. Some traditions encourage diners to set aside three peas at the end of the meal for luck, fortune and romance. Others holds that counting the number of peas in a serving predicts the amount of luck or wealth that the diner will have in the coming year.
While there are many regional variations on Black Eyed Peas and Rice, Eat Ah Food shares a classic Trinbagonian style of making it.