A meal fit for a new year
by Jennifer Cohron
Dec 31, 2012 | 1978 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hog jowls have long been considered a must-have on New Year’s Day. Photo by: Jennifer Cohron
Hog jowls have long been considered a must-have on New Year’s Day. Photo by: Jennifer Cohron
Walker County residents have spent the past week stocking up on hog jowls, greens and black-eyed peas.

According to a long-standing tradition still adhered to by many Southerners, these three ingredients are the keys to ensuring health and wealth in the New Year.

Greens, particularly collards, represent dollar bills. Each bite could be worth $1,000 in the coming months.

Peas symbolize both coins and good luck. This custom is believed to date back to the Civil War, when fields of peas were left untouched by pillaging Union troops and Southerners considered themselves lucky to have something edible with which to survive.

At least 365 black-eyed peas are supposed to be consumed to start off the year. Extra luck is available if the cook added a shiny penny or dime to the pot before serving.

Both greens and peas were featured prominently in many local sales papers this week, including the ad for Piggly Wiggly in Dora.

The store’s produce section carried three times the amount of greens as usual for the New Year’s holiday, and the store also offered deals on canned, frozen and bagged peas.

People all over the world associate pork with prosperity, but Southerners are among the few who appreciate the hog jowl, or cheek of the hog.

Terry Merchant, manager of the meat market at Son’s on 9th Avenue, said his department sells 100 cases, or 3,000 pounds, of hog jowl between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

“Typically, it’s a little bit fattier than bacon. It doesn’t have nearly as much lean in it. But you can fry it, and it tastes a lot like bacon,” Merchant said.

Hog jowl can be used to season typical New Year’s side dishes such as black-eyed peas and greens.

Merchant also recommends battering the hog jowl before frying it or baking it.

Another advantage that hog jowl has over bacon is its price.

Both Son’s and Piggly Wiggly sold smoked chunk hog jowl for 99 cents per pound this week. Son’s also had sliced hog jowl for $1.59 per pound.

“We sell it year-round, but nowhere near as much as we do at New Year’s,” Merchant said.

Merchant added that chitterlings, or pig intestines, and hog maw, or pig stomach, also sell well between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.