One of the traditions which arose from America’s culinary melting pot is the consumption of Hoppin’ John and collard greens. Deriving from the Gullah people of coastal Georgia and South Carolina–by way of West African cuisine and the French and Spanish Middle Ages custom of eating beans on New Years Day–the dishes are thought to bring good luck to the new year, with the black-eyed peas in Hoppin’ John symbolizing pennies, and the collard greens symbolizing money. Regional variations of the tradition included the use of grits and peas in Alabama, the use of rice and peas in South Carolina, and some adding rice (for health) and cornbread. Either way you choose to fix them, they are a reminder of the unique, but shared heritage of African-Americans.
Hog and Hominy: Soul Food from Africa to America by Frederick Douglass Opie
Stirring the Pot: A History of African Cuisine by James McCann
What the Slaves Ate: Recollections of African American Foods and Foodways by Herbert C. Covey & Dwight Eisnach