Welcome to 2011!
This is a black-eyed pea and rice pilaf from the Southern U.S. that is traditionally served on New Year's Day in the hopes of bringing good luck for the coming year. Not being one to tempt fate, I like to try and cook it on New Year's Day too. An Italian friend of mine just told me that lentils are the traditional good luck dish for his family -- this puts me in a gastronomic dilema, since lentils AND black-eyed peas in the same day is really going to be pushing things, but I don't see that I have much choice now. Tomorrow should be a very interesting day.
There's always a risk when writing about a regional speciality that someone who actually lives there will find fault with your method or ingredients (this is especially true when you've never actually been there). But, being a damn-the-torpedoes kind of guy, I'll charge ahead anyway. I'm not completely reckless though, so I did sift through all of the Hoppin' John recipes I have on hand, finally settling on the one from The Joy of Cooking. This book marks 80 years in print in 2011, so I figure that if there was some problem with the authenticity of the recipe in there, it would have been long ago fixed to the general liking of the majority of Southerners. Let's hope so, anyway.
Enjoy, and all the best for 2011. Now, on to the lentils...