I have heard all my life that one should eat black eyed peas on New Year's Day for good luck throughout the new year. It wasn't until I was in my early twenties that my father changed the dish from black eyed peas to Hoppin' John as our traditional New Year's Day good luck meal. It's simple, po' foke's food, and I love it any time of the year. In the directions, I will include substitutions to make this dish vegetarian/vegan. Some history of the dish can be found here --http://members.aol.com/RSRICHMOND/hoppingjohn.html -- It would seem most people cook the rice and peas seperately, and then combine the two to serve. That's how my dad does it. I wanted to cook the flavor of the black eyed peas into the rice. So, this recipe strays a little from the norm, in that I cook the rice with the peas already in the pan.