Where to find the Southern traditional New Year's meal

It might be predominately a Southern thing, but it's tradition.

Southern classics like black-eyed peas and greens represent not just a healthier side to someone's daily meal, but are said to guarantee a prosperous year, according to Southern Living magazine.

According to one tradition, the two dishes date back to the Civil War when Gen. William T. Sherman's soldiers raided homes for food on their March to the Sea. The troops left behind what they didn't want – black-eyed peas – which saved thousands of Southerners from starvation.

Black-eyed peas represent coins and are typically served with hog jowl – cured and smoked cheeks of a pig. Greens represent dollar bills and are served at the dinner table for good luck and courage for some.

Local eatery Auten's Family Restaurant will serve up the New Year's Day tradition for lunch.

“It's an annual tradition to do it every year,” manager Sharon Auten said. “We're going to have the traditional collard greens and black-eyed peas, but also we'll also serve cornbread and ham. It'll go along with our lunch menu.”

If black-eyed peas and collard greens don't stir up the appetite, other recipes will be sure to bring fortune, or lead to a stuffed stomach on New Year's Day. Foods that could potentially bring luck include fish – which are said to provide great abundance – sweet fruit and round cakes symbolizing coming full circle, according to Reader's Digest.

Auten's is located at 969 Pine Log Road in the Village at Whiskey Shopping Center behind KFC.

For more information, visit www.autensofaiken.com or call 803-502-1307.

Maayan Schechter is the city beat reporter with Aiken Standard. An Atlanta native, she has a mass communications-journalism degree from the University of North Carolina Asheville.

Local restaurants also serving up greens and beans:

• Golden Corral

2265 Whiskey Road

• WifeSaver – Aiken

651 SilverBluff Road

803-642-0441

• WifeSaver – North Augusta

414 Martintown Road

803-279-1446

• Cracker Barrel

2364 Whiskey Road

803-648-0007

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