Hello, New Year! As another year finally comes to a close, and not a moment too soon, it's time to control-alt-delete 2021, and start anew. Traditions are a great way to mark the end of one period and manifest our hopes for the beginning of another. And after 2020 and 2021, we want health, wealth and heaping gobs of good luck all year long. According to lore from around the world, the boisterous sounds (party horns and blowers) can ward off evil spirits. In Latin America, it's believed that lugging around your (empty) weekender will conjure a year full of adventure and travel which we have all desperately missed recently. From kissing at midnight to wearing red underwear for more romance, these superstitious traditions are all said to lead to good fortune. Yes, please.
What about the day after the party, the first day of the new year? Many cultures agree that how you spend this day or more specifically how you eat your way through it (good for a hangover) will also set the precedent for how your year will go. Fascinating food customs from around the world include grapes (a go-to in Spain), symbolic soba noodles in Japan, Italian-style lentil soup, marzipan doughnuts in Denmark, a Canadian fish fry, Filipino round fruits and Brazilian pomegranate seeds, Chinese dumplings, breads and more. The little gems pictured below can be enjoyed at Fortune House in Irving.
But in the heart of Texas, where we do our own thing, you need four main food components steeped in Southern tradition for a healthy, wealthy and happy new year. Overly superstitious? 2021 really dropped the ball again after the ball dropped. So, why hedge our bets? Plus, these food-based rituals are not only fun and hopefully lucky, they're absolutely delicious.
The Four Lucky Foods that Should Be on Every Texan’s New Year's Day Menu
Lucky Food #1: Black-eyed Peas
Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day has been considered good luck for at least 1,500 years. These flavorful legumes are traditionally, according to Southern folklore, the first food that should be eaten on New Year's Day. Resembling coins, these beans are said to bring prosperity in the New Year.
Lucky Food #2: Greens
Greens such as cabbage, kale, chard and collard greens are consumed not only in the South, but around the world to bring good economic fortune. The tradition is simple: the more greens you eat on New Year’s, the more moola you will have in the new year. So stock your plate with collards and black-eyed peas, as both are thought to send wealth your way.
Lucky Food #3: Pork
Pair your greens with both black–eyed peas and pork for a truly Southern-style New Year's tradition and triple your luck for 2021. Ham is often a holiday centerpiece but pork with its rich, delicious fattiness has come to symbolize wealth and prosperity. With so many options like sausage, ribs, bacon, ham and so on, there's no reason not to be in "hog heaven" for at least one day.
Lucky Food #4: Cornbread
Go for the Gold! Cornbread represents golden opportunities and pocket money (wealth) in the New Year. Cornbread is also an essential with black-eyed peas and greens. Just add pork and you will have achieved the Superfecta on the first day of the new year!
Irving Eateries Dish Up Lucky Foods
Get a Heaping Helping of Good Luck at Po’ Melvin’s
4070 N. Belt Line Road | 972.255-3919
You’ve gotta love Irving restaurateur Mel LeMane who is cooking massive quantities of his award-winning black eyed peas for your good fortune in 2022. Order online and pick up on Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Po Melvin’s. These legendary black eyed peas once won “Best in Show” at the State Fair of Texas and launched the LeMane family into the restaurant business.
You can also indulge in Po Melvin's famous jalapeño cornbread made with buttermilk, cheddar cheese, onions and jalapeño peppers.
Prefer to try cooking up a batch of your own? Mel has happily shared his famous recipe with us.
More Places to Pig Out!
You’re in Luck When You Lunch at PJ's Cafe
2301 N. O’Connor Rd | 972.255.8400
Pork chops, ham steak, black-eyed peas with cornbread and greens are staples on the menu at PJ’s. Not only are these southern favorites darn tasty, they’re also loaded with luck on the first day of the year - so the superstition says. Holiday hours: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Lucky Eats at Whiskey Cake Are Magically Delicious
3225 Regent Blvd | 469.941.2253
First and foremost, the top section of the weekend brunch menu is titled “Hair of the Dog.” Though not necessarily considered to bring good fortune, these libations might be considered lucky to those seeking solace from the champagne hangover … which indicates that the Hangover burger might be a nice brunch choice. However, pork is definitely the most popular lucky food group to try at Whiskey Cake, featuring candied bacon, 3 Little Pigs (pork sliders with slaw) and a Whiskey Cake bone-in pork chop served with bonus black-eyed pea vegetable ragout. Plus, you can add a side of Housemade spicy pork sausage patties to any dish to bring on the luck. Voila!
The Whole Tavern is Down to Get Lucky at Cork & Pig
Water Street | 5224 N. O'Connor Blvd. | 972.364.7412
As long as you like pork, you’re in luck at Cork & Pig. Imagine that! Yep, the lucky food group here is … well, you guessed it, pork. This little piggie recommends the deviled eggs with bacon, the double cut pork chop or the Carolina pork ribs with a side of slaw.
Take on 2022 with a Happy-Go-Lucky Vibe at The Ranch
857 W John Carpenter Frwy | 972.506.7262
While everyone is thinking about Saturday and Sunday brunch, you can be enjoying a final toast with friends plus a side of biscuits and gravy at Friday’s special New Year’s Eve brunch at The Ranch at Las Colinas. On both Friday and Saturday, the lucky eats include Texas Whiskey BBQ Ribs with buttered cornbread, black-eyed pea hummus and a duroc bacon board.
Livin’ Large and Getting Lucky at Thirsty Lion Gastro Pub
Toyota Music Factory | 350 W Las Colinas Blvd | 214.496.0400
Black Cherry BBQ Pork Tenderloin 📸: @emilypirainophotography
You can ring in the New Year at Thirsty Lion with their Pre-Fixe New Year's Eve Menu which is also available on New Year’s Day! Choose from seasonal Black Cherry BBQ Pork Tenderloin, Grilled Atlantic salmon or grilled ribeye steak. Served 4pm-close on 12/31 & 1/1. You’ll need a reservation.
Happy New Year!
Cheers to traditional good Irving eats that might, hopefully, lead to health, wealth and happiness in 2022! I had high hopes for 2021, but I'll try again this year by raising a glass and relishing every extra spoonful of good fortune that I can as I say Ba-bye to 2021. Won't you please join me?