Please Pass the Black-Eyed Peas

Please Pass the Black-Eyed Peas

A husband strives to convince his wife to try black-eyed peas for New Year's.

Michael Thompson tries to sway his wife Stephanie to try some black-eyed peas.

Call me a typical guy but to me New Year’s Day means two things: football and food. As in watching college bowl games on TV—I save my loudest cheers for my Oklahoma Sooners, of course—and eating a big bowl of black-eyed peas. Both good old-fashioned American traditions, right?

Well, not for my wife, Stephanie. In the 10 years we’d been married I’d managed to change her mind about football. I didn’t quite convert her into an OU fan, but she did come around to understanding my love for the game and for the Sooners.

Not bad for a woman who had less than no interest in football when we met.

But black-eyed peas? Forget it. Steph didn’t like beans of any kind.

“I won’t eat them, and I won’t cook them,” she declared. There was no swaying her.

Believe me, I tried. The first year we were married, I appealed to her sense of tradition. I told Steph that’s what my family ate every New Year’s when I was growing up in Poteau, Oklahoma.

My mom would lay out a spread of cornbread, fried potatoes and a steaming pot of black-eyed peas and we’d feast while we watched football. Dad liked to say that eating black-eyed peas on January first was supposed to bring good luck all year long.

“I don’t really buy into that,” I told Steph, “but it was fun just the same.”

“For you all, sure,” she said. “Not my kind of thing, though.”

I took another tack. “How about making some just because you love me?”

Steph laughed and shook her head. “Nice try.”

She did bring home a can of black-eyed peas from the grocery and present it to me on New Year’s, though.

I didn’t give up. Steph was into eating healthy. Her idea of a great meal was salad. Once we went to a steakhouse and she ordered a chopped salad. Not as a starter either. That was her whole dinner: a pile of lettuce and veggies with three little slices of sirloin on top.

She claimed everything tasted better on a bed of greens. Yeah, right.

Still, I thought I might be able to use Steph’s fondness for healthy food to help my case come New Year’s. I looked up nutritional information on black-eyed peas and fed it—the info, not the peas—to her.

Black-eyed peas are low in fat and sodium, and cholesterol free. They’re a good source of calcium, folate and vitamin A. And a half-cup, cooked, has as much protein as three ounces of red meat.

“They’re good for you,” I said. “Like your salads.”

Steph wouldn’t bite.

I resorted to opening a lone can of black-eyed peas at halftime that New Year’s Day and every one thereafter. That sufficed for tradition.

Until last year. Who says Steph has to make black-eyed peas? I thought. Why can’t I make them myself? I got on my laptop and Googled how to cook them. Guess what popped up? A recipe for black-eyed pea salad!

I printed out that recipe and another one, a slow-cooker version of what my mom used to make. I threw the ingredients in the Crock-Pot before we went to bed.

New Year’s Day I woke to a heavenly aroma. I checked the Crock-Pot. Bubbling along nicely.

The Sooners game started. During commercials, I washed spinach and cut up veggies for the salad. Steph took pity on me and made the dressing.

At halftime, we sat down together in front of the TV with our food on a tray. A big bowl of slow-cooked black-eyed peas for me. And a salad for her, topped with a scoop of those very same black-eyed peas.

I watched Steph take a bite. Then another. “You’ll eat anything if it’s on a bed of greens, won’t you?” I teased.

Steph just grinned and kept eating. She actually liked the black-eyed peas!

So much that she’s making them for us January first. The game, the food and the woman I love—this will be my best New Year’s ever. Especially when the Sooners win.