A New Year Begins with Old Dishes



photo credit: Pixabay.com


Hey, y’all! As we kick off shanaswain.com, I’d like to first wish you all a Merry New Year (shout out to “Trading Places”!)!! As we close the chapter that is 2017, we prepare our bodies and minds for the future. It’s my hope we are all entering 2018 in our best health.


Thank you so much for allowing me to share my world of writing, motherhood, and cooking up tasty dishes! With it being NYE, y’all know I’ve been in the lab (my kitchen) whipping up New Year’s day vittles. The Boston butt got a tan in the pan and now it’s nestled firmly in the oven on low and slow. The field peas soaked and later immersed with onion in the crock pot are bathing with neckbones and ham hocks from the night before. Can’t forget those collards, the leafy bunch washed and chopped, with a small simmer on the stovetop.


New Year’s traditions vary around the country and the world, but one aspect is common to almost all of them: food. The food we eat goes together with the beliefs of luck and fortune we hope to come to us in the new year. Here in the South, many culinary traditions accompany specific rites we carry out during this time.



photo credit: Pixabay.com


Field peas and rice are prepared as Hoppin’ John, a dish which dates back to the very early history of the Lowcountry. In the coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia and among the Sea Islands, the field pea or a red pea- are almost exclusively used, combined with a smoked meat, onions, and spices. Other areas of the South will use a blackeyed pea. Notions of good luck and prosperity accompany the peas, which resemble coins. To add to the financial promise our tasty meal will bring, it is common to prepare collard greens, since greens resemble money. We don’t prepare any fowl, rather cook pork dishes; fowl flies away, and pigs move forward in travel. To further fortify our lucky meal,  we add a slab of cornbread which reminds us of gold (and compliments peas and greens beautifully).


In a region steeped in rich history of two worlds combining, these meals are also variants of those in Western African countries. Rice was a staple crop in the Lowcountry and field peas were resistant to most bad weather, making them abundant in the region. African culinary heritage incorporated, thus creating an American tradition and reinforcing its historical significance.


Many superstitions surround this first day of the year, but all are not largely observed. One thing remains true of our corner of the world: most of us raised with this culinary tradition will partake in the meal of Hoppin’ John, collards, and pork. Mine will be ready to consume at midnight and I will welcome the new year and all the joy it is sure to bring. I hope you do the same! Happy New Year to all!


Quality Service Needed

Decided to order pizza today, since it’s been like 3 weeks since we had some – insane, I know. Instead of calling our go-to, I really felt like having junk food pizza (that is a thing). During the eclipse, I ordered a whole bunch of them from this junk food pizza place, and I recalled how amazing their bacon was, so I opted to go with them again today.
*Calls junk food pizza place*

*Automaton explaining 2 specials*

*Live person picks up*
Me: hey, are the specials mentioned beforehand the only ones you’re running today?
Him: no.
Me: ok, if you have a minute, can you go over your other features with me?
Him: no, I don’t know them by heart.
Me: ok, no problem. Is there anyone working now who can tell me today’s specials? 
Him: no.
*shit, I can’t let this one go*
Me: alright, is there a manager available?
*click* *cue automaton hold*
Finally, a manager picks up. I told her what happened, she claimed he didn’t need to memorize anything because the specials were right on the computer in front of him. I knew it was a young person I spoke with, so I can’t wholly blame him for not taking ownership in his job. He will get that in time. But I did suggest he not be the one to answer the phone until he is properly coached. She wholeheartedly agreed. It was actually a pleasant convo: mostly I felt for the young kid, and for the state of customer service in general, and I regretted not calling my go-to higher quality regular place. She asked me if she could go over the specials, and I thanked her and said I would try them another time. You could tell in her voice that she totally understood. 
A lesson is in everything. Don’t choose awesome bacon over supreme customer service (I think hahahahaha).

Teaching Tipping

So, earlier, Zuri was playing restaurant server. She brought me one chicken wing with some parmesan sprinkled on it. That’s what I got. Then she brought me a bill, and I signed it and left her a tip. She looked at it. 

Z: mom, does that say $10?

Me: yes.

Z: (eyes getting big) well.

Me: well? 

Z: I thought I would get a hundred dollars.

Me: whoo! That’s a lot, all I got was a wing and cheese.

Z: well, you deserve a hundred dollars for a tip when you work.

Me: (hugging her) that’s sweet, Zuri, I wish more people thought like you! 
(Seriously though, I make a decent living, no complaints, but it is hard work. I’m just thankful that I have a daughter who is learning about money and how to quantify numbers, and learning how service industry people should be treated)

Ready to boast about food!!!!

Ok, so I know I was being cryptic about something for the last couple days: about a host for a food show, and the lady recognizing my laugh and voice, then the glamour shot today hahahaha but NOW I can officially say that I auditioned for a traveling food show on Food Network!! They are looking for a fresh face with a new concept, so I decided to send in a video and application! So, NOW I am gonna ask all you that like to send well wishes and positive thoughts, to  please do that for me!!! hahahahaha I almost didn’t post this, because I didn’t want to will bad mojo, but yall know I can’t hold water hahaha I’m sure there were so many applicants, but I did my best, and I am definitely qualified, so I really, really hope they like me!! I CANNOT Thank certain friends enough, they helped me so, so much, and they know who they are!!!

Know Your Guest, Use Your Talent

Server/Bartender life: encountering 100 different personalities in one day, assessing them in just a couple short minutes, understanding who you are dealing with in even less time, and finally mastering your understanding of all said personalities, just long enough to get that tip.


And then filing all you learned about one, only to start over with the next.


That shit is Hard.


Ps. Don’t ever listen to anyone who discounts the job of serving or bartending. The people who are good at this, are some of the smartest people.