How can kosher Blue Cheese fit into a secular New Year’s Day dinner? I’ll tell you.
Growing up in Alabama, I ate my fair share of black eye peas and various greens, especially on New Year’s Day. According to my mother, eating these foods on January 1st guaranteed a year of prosperity in the money realm, and the more you ate, the richer you would be! How? Why? These Southern favorites are dripping with symbolism. My family ate cabbage for the “green” paper money and black eye peas for the pennies. Other families served collard greens, but any type of green leafy vegetable would do, whether it’s cooked down to mush or served crisp in a fresh salad.
This year, 2016, I bought not only collard greens and a can of peas, but I also got a bag of baby spinach, some tomatoes, and Blue Cheese by The Cheese Guy (OU-D kosher, cholov stam) to make a salad. Extra “bills” can’t hurt, and they are healthy!
The Cheese Guy, Brent Delman, travels all over the world, visiting cheesemakers. He works with them to create private label kosher cheeses with a variety of hechshers; most are cholov stam with some cholov yisroel cheeses scattered throughout the collection.
The Cheese Guy’s Blue Cheese wedge is snow white with dainty blue-green veining throughout. While the blue coloring is not prominent, the flavor is definitely there. This is a bright, tangy cheese that crumbles with ease and is not overpowering. It is handcrafted and aged 60 days. It hails from Wisconsin where it is made along with 3rd generation cheesemakers.
This blue cheese is equally at home on a gourmet cheese board as it is crumbled over salad or stirred into dressings, both creamy and vinaigrette. It is available in random weight 6-8 oz. wedges or in crumbles. Some even like blue cheese crumbles on black beans or peas!
Southerners in the U.S. are not the only ones to celebrate an occasion with symbolic legumes.
Your Jewish Speech provides an overview of the customs the week before the bris, including the eating of chickpeas. One meaning of the peas is that they are in multiples, symbolizing the “wealth” of Abraham in terms of progeny:
A bit from YourJewishSpeech.com on the customs in the week before the bris:
“On the Friday night after a baby’s birth (and before his circumcision) Ashkenazi Jews often invite friends and family to join them after the meal to mark the birth. Food, drink, words of Torah and song are shared.
Traditions: Often chickpeas and round lentils are served as they are symbolic of fertility and of the cycle of life. One Hebrew name for chickpeas is “arbis” and tradition connects this word symbolically to God’s promise to Abraham, ‘I shall multiply (arbe) your seed like the stars of the Heavens (Genesis 22:17).’”
Have a happy and healthy secular New Year! And remember to eat your peas and leaves. The more money you have, the more cheese you can buy!
Elizabeth Bland, The Cheese Mistress