Hoppin’ John

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

hoppin’ John a dish of cowpeas (black-eyed peas), cooked with fat pork (for example pig’s jowl) and rice with some seasoning. It is often served with collard greens and cornbread. It is a customary dish for New Year’s Day in Charleston and the American south. Craigie and Hulbert (1938–44) spell it ‘hopping John’, the form used by their two earliest citations (1838 and 1856). They define it as: ‘a highly seasoned stew of bacon, peas, and sometimes rice’. Everyone seems to agree that the indisputable basis of the dish is cowpeas, which the slaves brought to N. America (or which were brought for them, for food during the voyage, along with the other new plants brought from Africa, okra, yam, and water melon). John Thorne (1996) gives a generous amount of space to the subject, in the course of a chapter about the various forms which ‘Rice and Beans’ have taken in the Americas and especially in the southern states of the USA.