One of the Southern traditions for New Year ’s Day is to have black-eyed peas for good luck in the new year. On those rare New Years Day when I am actually at home, always it is hoppin johns (seasoned black-eyed peas and rice with bacon) and pork barbeque that are the lunch to night time feast while watching the college bowl games. Having been talked into going to the Windy City by a friend there to join in on the New Years Eve parties, this year would have to forgo the traditional feast since the traditions in the Midwest are far from the same.
After checking into my hotel and having lunch with friends, I headed out to see about getting some food for a early breakfast after we returned from the NYE party and a few Chicago souvenirs to bring back to Virginia. It was a good day for it, since though it was raining off and on, it was not too cold.
Down the hill from the Sheraton front entrance is a big Walgreen, which I found had a lot of Chicago souvenirs. It is a great place to go to get some Bears, Cubs, and White Sox items as well as different t-shirts and scarves and hats from Chicago. Nothing says Chicago like a Bears souvenir. But what is key to know about this Walgreens is that they have hats and scarves and umbrellas in here at a low price– and if you did not bring them with you – this needs to be your first stop to get some of those items to deal with Chicago’s weather.
Heading east down the other side of the street is a European style Grocery Store called Fox and Obel. I was not really sure from the outside what the place was, but it did look interesting and had alot of people going in and out. This really turned out to be my lucky find of the afternoon. As soon as you walk in you are hit with the smells of the bakery goods. They have a great selection of breads, and I picked up several different types to take back to the room. As I was wondering by the deli, I made a great find -they had hoppin johns! New Years tradition was indeed saved!
With a quick purchase of the hoppin johns – my luck for the New Year was just pretty much insured. The actual real find though was that the hoppin johns there were the best that I have ever had, and the slight difference in preparation is likely to be how I make them from now on. Its not easy to make a black-eyed pea taste outstanding – but this is the place to go if your looking to try to see that for yourself. My friends in Chicago did go there after I left and all agreed that I was right in proclaiming this as a lucky discovery of a fantastic side dish.
And so – if you find yourself in Chicago on New Year’s Eve, now you know where to go to get your hoppin johns.