In a bit of a role reversal, some of the bloggers participating in the tour for There Will Be Lies were asked to write a post for their stop. I was asked to write a little bit about superstitions, specifically, superstitions that are unique to Texas or the South. Since there is a lot of mystery and, yes, some superstition involve in the story, I thought it was a great tie-in. I had a lot of legends and superstitions to choose from, of course, but I settled on a New Year’s tradition/superstition that started in the South but has spread to more places in the US over the years.
First, here’s a little bit about There Will Be Lies:
There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake
Published by Bloomsbury on January 6, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller
In four hours, Shelby Jane Cooper will be struck by a car. Shortly after, she and her mother will leave the hospital and set out on a winding journey toward the Grand Canyon. All Shelby knows is that they’re running from dangers only her mother understands. And the further they travel, the more Shelby questions everything about her past—and her current reality. Forced to take advantage of the kindness of unsuspecting travelers, Shelby grapples with what’s real, what isn’t, and who she can trust . . . if anybody. Award-winning author Nick Lake proves his skills as a master storyteller in this heart-pounding new novel. This emotionally charged thrill ride leads to a shocking ending that will have readers flipping back to the beginning.
The Curious Case of Black Eyed Peas
It will be no surprise to anyone that food can have deep cultural meaning. We eat certain foods for happy occasions (like cake at a wedding) and use it for symbolic meaning during religious observances (the Seder Plate during Passover), but food can hold superstitious meaning, as well. There is a superstition in Ireland, for instance, that if you go walking in the hills you must have a piece of bread in your pocket. If you don’t, and you happen to pass a place where someone who died during the An Gorta Mor (the great famine) was buried, (aka “Hungry Grass“) you, too, might fall dead or suffer from unquenchable hunger for the rest of your life. In Texas, where I live, the biggest food tradition that has superstitious ties is the eating of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. It wasn’t until well into my 20s that I realized this was a Southern tradition, as my Midwestern husband had never eaten the dish on January 1st. It is believed that eating this dish will give you good luck in the coming year and I have always had my black-eyed peas on New Year’s for as long as I can remember.
The practice, as most agree, goes back to the Civil War. Black-eyed peas are thought to have been transported to the US by slaves from West Africa and brought to the “low country” of Georgia and the Carolinas. Thus, it was considered feed for animals or food for people who had nothing else to eat. (A few other famous foods in that category: catfish and crawfish). As Sherman’s troops made their way through the South, they took all of the food they could find, leaving many with nothing. However, since field corn and black-eyed peas were considered animal feed, they were left alone and thus became a staple food for many. The truth is that it’s relatively easy to grow and can withstand high heat environments, so in may ways, it is a lucky food to have around. Many people slow cook it with the ham bone from Christmas or, in Texas, make something called Texas Caviar, which has more of a Southwest influence. Either way, this food tradition/superstition is one that I don’t mind participating in every year!
Bloomsbury is giving away a finished copy of There Will Be Lies. It’s open to residents of the US who are 13 or older. Good Luck!