Hoppin' John, also known as Carolina peas and rice, is a peas and rice dish served in the Southern United States. It is made with black-eyed peas (or red cowpeas such as iron and clay peas in the Southeast US) and rice, chopped onion, and sliced bacon, seasoned with salt. In some recipes, instead of bacon, ham hock, fatback, country sausage, or smoked turkey parts are used. A few use green peppers or vinegar and spices. Smaller than black-eyed peas, field peas are used in the Low Country of South Carolina and Georgia; black-eyed peas are the norm elsewhere.
|Alternative names||Carolina peas and rice|
|Place of origin||Southern United States|
|Region or state||The Carolinas|
|Main ingredients||field peas and rice, chopped onion, sliced bacon|
|Variations||substitute ham hock, fatback, or country sausage for the conventional bacon, or smoked turkey parts as a pork alternative.|
In the southern United States, eating Hoppin' John on New Year's Day is thought to bring a prosperous year filled with luck. The peas are symbolic of pennies or coins, and a coin is sometimes added to the pot or left under the dinner bowls. Collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, chard, kale, cabbage and similar leafy green vegetables served along with this dish are supposed to further add to the wealth, since they are the color of American currency. Another traditional food, cornbread, can also be served to represent wealth, being the color of gold. On the day after New Year's Day, leftover "Hoppin' John" is called "Skippin' Jenny" and further demonstrates one's frugality, bringing a hope for an even better chance of prosperity in the New Year.
The Oxford English Dictionary's first reference to the dish is from Frederick Law Olmsted's 19th century travelogue, A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States (1861). However, a recipe for "Hopping John" in The Carolina Housewife by Sarah Rutledge, which was published in 1847, is also cited as the earliest reference. An even earlier source is Recollections of a Southern Matron, which mentions "Hopping John" (defined, in a note, as "bacon and rice") as early as 1838. The origins of the name are uncertain; one possibility is that the name is a corruption of the Haitian Creole term for black-eyed peas: pois pigeons (pronounced [pwapiˈʒɔ̃]), or "pigeon peas" in English.
Hoppin' John was originally a Low Country food before spreading to the entire population of the South. Hoppin' John may have evolved from rice and bean mixtures that were the subsistence of enslaved West Africans en route to the Americas. Hoppin' John has been further traced to similar foods in West Africa, in particular the Senegalese dish thiebou niebe.
One tradition common in the United States is that each person at the meal should leave three peas on their plate to ensure that the New Year will be filled with luck, fortune and romance. Another tradition 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. On Sapelo Island in the community of Hog Hammock, Geechee red peas are used instead of black-eyed peas. Sea Island red peas are similar.
American chef Sean Brock claims that traditional Hoppin' John was made with Carolina gold rice, once thought to be extinct, and Sea Island red peas. He has worked with farmers to re-introduce this variety of rice. As of 2017, several rice growers offer Carolina gold rice.
Other bean and rice dishes are seen throughout the American South and the Caribbean, and are often associated with African culinary influence in the Americas. Regional variants include the Guyanese dish "cook-up rice", which uses black-eyed peas and coconut milk; "Hoppin' Juan," which substitutes Cuban black beans for black-eyed peas; the Peruvian tacu-tacu; and the Brazilian dish baião-de-dois, which also often uses black-eyed peas.
- Arroz con gandules - the Puerto Rican equivalent
- Gallo Pinto - the equivalent dish of Nicaragua and Costa Rica
- List of regional dishes of the United States
- Pabellón criollo - A similar dish in Venezuela including shredded beef and where ingredients are served separately
- Platillo Moros y Cristianos - the Cuban equivalent
- Red beans and rice
- Tacu-tacu - the Peruvian equivalent
- Saint Sylvester's Day - a similar dish is eaten in Italy to celebrate the New Year.
- Hoppin John What's cooking America.Another name for it is Stew Peas
- "On New Year's Day, it gets the full Southern treatment, which usually means Hoppin' John – a traditional Soul Food fixin' consisting of F peas cooked with ham hocks and spices, served over rice. In the South, eating field-peas on New Year's is thought to bring prosperity" Celebrate New Year's with Field- peas by Rachel Ellner 31 December 2008 Nashua Telegraph
- Chesman, Andrea (1998). 366 Delicious Ways to Cook Rice, Beans, and Grains. New York: Plume. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-452-27654-3.
- "'Eat poor on New Year's and eat fat the rest of the year,' echoed the refrain...A shiny dime is often thrown into the Hoppin' John cooking pot and the person getting the dime in their bowl is due an extra portion of good luck." Field Peas: New Year's good-luck foods by Mick Vann 26 December 2008 Food section Austin Chronicle
- "Collard greens (or kale, chard, mustard, or turnip greens) symbolize money in the South" Beyond Field - Peas: New Year's good-luck foods by Mick Vann 26 December 2008 Food section Austin Chronicle
- "On the day after New Year's Day, leftover "Hoppin' John" becomes "Skippin' Jenny" and eating it demonstrates powerful frugality, bringing one even better chances of prosperity." Beyond Black-Eyed Peas: New Year's good-luck foods by Mick Vann 26 December 2008 Food section Austin Chronicle
- Olmsted, Frederick Law (1861). A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States. New York: Mason Brothers. p. 506. LCCN 19012177. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
The greatest luxury with which they are acquainted is a stew of bacon and peas, with red pepper, which they call 'Hopping John'.
- Sarah, Rutledge (1979) [Reprint of 1847 edition]. "Hopping John". The Carolina Housewife. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. p. 83. ISBN 0872493830. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- Twitty, Michael W. (2011). "Hoppin' John". In Katz-Hyman, Martha B.; Rice, Kym S. (eds.). World of a slave. Santa Barbara, California: Greenwood. pp. 280–281. ISBN 9780313349447. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- Gilman, Caroline Howard (1838). Recollections of a Southern Matron. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 124. LCCN 06044035. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- Thornton, Richard H (1912). "Hopping John". An American Glossary. 1. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott company. p. 449. LCCN 30025356. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- Opie, Frederick Douglass (2008). Hog & Hominy: Soul Food from Africa to America. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 96–97. ISBN 9780231517973. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- Twitty, Michael W. (2012). "The Transnational Dish of the Motherland: The African Roots of Rice and Beans". In Wilk, Richard; Barbosa, Livia (eds.). Rice and Beans: A Unique Dish in a Hundred Places. London: Berg. p. 30. ISBN 9781847889041. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- The pea that could; Geechee red peas from Sapelo Island offer new hope for a community by John T. Edge January 2014 Southern Living page 62
- Charlie Rose Interview, Episode 129, Season 20