This simple, but delicious dish of peas, pork and rice has graced holiday tables since the 1800s. Although it’s believed to bring luck and peace in the upcoming year to anyone who eats it, Hoppin’ John’s history is anything but peaceful.
Hoppin John originated in the Low Country of South Carolina. Some say an old, hobbled man called Hoppin’ John became known for selling peas and rice on the streets of Charleston. Others say enslaved children hopped around the table in eager anticipation of the dish.
Although any type of dried peas can be used for Hoppin’ John, the black-eyed pea is the most traditional. Slave traders saw black-eyed peas as an economical and easy way to feed their cargo.
The first recipes for Hoppin’ John appear in cookbooks that date back to the 1840s, although the mixture of dried peas, rice and pork was made by enslaved people in the South long before then.
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