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Aspen Food & Wine Classic canceled due to coronavirus

The coronavirus’ sweeping impacts to Aspen have included the cancellation of the rest of the ski season, and now another favorite local past-time has been nixed — this summer’s Food & Wine Classic. 

Organizers of the decadently festive event, which signals the start to the summer tourism season, announced Monday they were cancelling it because of health concerns and uncertainties surrounding COVID-19. This year’s Food & Wine was scheduled for June 19-21.

“We made this decision out of concern for the safety of our community and the world beyond it,” Food & Wine Editor in Chief Hunter Lewis said in an announcement. 

Those who have tickets, which go for thousands of dollars, can get full refunds by calling 877-900-WINE by May 15, or their tickets will be transferred to the Food & Wine Classic scheduled June 2021 in Aspen.

When it comes to Aspen’s high-profile marquee events, Food & Wine stands alongside the Aspen Music Festival, the JAS Labor Day Experience, Aspen Ideas Festival and Winter X Games. 

With sundresses and lanyards de rigeur, Food & Wine has held special significance to Aspen for 37 years, growing to an event that last year featured 80 cooking demonstrations, events and seminars; as well as more than 2,000 brands of wine, spirits and food for consumption. The event has drawn the likes of such culinary celebrities as Giada De Laurentiis, Martha Stewart, Bobby Flay and others. 

All of that provides a recipe for raising Aspen’s profile, while restaurants and hotels pencil in Food & Wine as one of their busiest times of the year. 

“We love kicking off the summer with Food & Wine,” said Mayor Torre. “It’s been part of our community for so many years and it’s a great opportunity to start our summer. It will be sorely missed coming out of the winter. I’m saddened it’s not going to be here, but under these circumstances, I understand.”

The city and the Aspen Chamber Resort Association help produce the event.

ACRA President Debbie Braun said the decision to cancel Food & Wine rested with the New York-based publication. The event had a $3 million economic impact on Aspen over the course of three days a decade ago, she said. 

“We’re very supportive of Food and Wine’s decision,” she said. “We were in talks about this last week, all of us working to see if there were was a way we could postpone the event and that’s just not possible.”

With the impacts of COVID-19 remaining to be seen, Braun it would be difficult to disagree with Food & Wine’s decision.

“We are saddened to hear the news, but the health of the community and visitors is of paramount importance,” she said. 

Braun said Food & Wine’s cancellation will have “a huge impact on businesses and employees.”

Aside from the international talent the event attracts, it’s also a chance for local restaurants and other purveyors of alcohol and food to shine. 

“It’s a tremendous event that we love participating in,” said Bill Doherty, general manager of Kenichi, an Asian restaurant. “For the last four or five years we’ve been in the tent at least a couple of times, and we’ve taken part in the local vendor program, which has been awesome for us to get that kind of exposure.”

Like Torre and Braun, Doherty said he understands Food & Wine’s decision. 

“I think what we’re all seeing is unprecedented,” he said. “That’s the kind of the word keeps coming to mind. Nobody’s ever seen anything like this.”

Terry Butler, who owns and operates the boutique Residence Hotel on Galena Street downtown, said Food & Wine’s cancellation could cripple her business. 

“I depend on Food & Wine,” she said. “It’s my anchor for the summer. I’m so tiny that Food & Wine can make or break me, and this really upsets me.”

Butler, who described herself as a “cheerleader for Aspen,” said she is questioning the thought-process behind all of the closures, shutdowns and executive orders.

“It bothers me so much how people can change our lives,” she said. “I’m not trying to be cavalier, stupid or naive, but at the same time, I don’t want us to ruin our country over this. I really feel we can deal with this as it comes.”

With Food & Wine’s announcement, Bob Morris, who runs Aspen Mountain Lodge, said he won’t open the Main Street property until July 1. 

“June is gone,” he said. “It’s history, it’s toast.”

But at least, Morris said, Aspen’s notorious summer gridlock on Main Street won’t be an issue.

“The last argument any of us are going to have for the next three months is how to solve the congestion through the S-curves,” he said. 


Glenwood Chamber compiles restaurant take-out directory from Rifle to Carbondale and everywhere in between

The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association is gathering a restaurant directory for Rifle, Silt, New Castle, Glenwood Springs and Carbondale.

Current restaurant listings can be found here — there’s a link at the top of the list to get on it if you haven’t already.

Restaurants can still send their delivery and carryout hours to news@postindependent.com and we’ll then forward them on to the chamber.

You can also use the Chamber’s online form directly to be added to the list, or email tara@glenwoodchamber.com

The Weekend Dish: The love story of Brazil’s Brigadeiro

There once was a firebrand politician. He was adamantly opposed to communism and ran as president for the conservative party. Many progressives despised him, while he was revered on the right. He was seen as either a wannabe dictator or savior of freedom.

You may guess who I am talking about, but you probably are incorrect. This particular politician is long dead and only mentioned in passing in the history books. He was also Brazilian, and his name lives on in loving chocolate.

Eduardo Gomes was known by many in Brazil as “the Brigadeiro.” While his name has faded, “the Brigadeiro” lives on through the famous eponymous Brazilian sweet.

Gomes had an illustrious yet notorious career in the Brazilian military and even helped to establish the Air Force in the 1930s. He had been wounded in battle, and arrested and released by his government twice.

After his military career, he entered politics and ran for the presidency of Brazil in 1946. Not only did he seem to have bravery and passion, but he was also easy on the eyes. He believed himself to be so handsome that his slogan was “[v]ote for the brigadier, who’s good-looking and single.” 

Needless to say, women liked him. His election was one of the first-ever that allowed women to vote in Brazil (with some restrictions). He also proposed significant changes to the dictatorship, while ironically being a retired military officer, so he was seen as the “change” candidate.

According to legend, his legions of admiring women were fundamental to his fundraising efforts. They decided to sell homemade chocolates to raise money, but since this was 1946, Brazilian citizens still faced rations after the war. Instead of using fresh milk, they turned to their rationed condensed milk to make the confection. The results were better than expected. The group of women raised money for Gomes’ campaign by selling small chocolates they had prepared with the limited ingredients they have.

They thought the new dessert was so sweet, like their beloved Brigadeiro. He adored them for their efforts, and with a wink and smile, he flirted for their votes. If only politicians and their constituents today had such a sunny relationship.

Use butter to keep the Brigadeiros from sticking to your hands. Jordan Callier photo

I never knew that these little chocolate balls were even a thing until my friend, Marcina Lacerda,   shared some with me. Back in August, I featured Lacerda and her world-famous pão de queijo in this column. Since then, she has been traveling the world, while introducing new people to Brazil’s culinary past.

“I don’t know why Brigadeiro is not more popular outside of Brazil,” Lacerda said. “It’s so easy to make!”

Lacerda is a magician in the kitchen. Cooking comes as naturally to her as breathing comes to some of us. So when she says something easy, I worry I can’t replicate her magic.

I needed some reassurance that I could indeed make Brigadeiro without her help in the future.



1 can (14 ounces) condensed milk, sweetened

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted

pinch of salt

chocolate or rainbow sprinkles


  1. In a small saucepan, combine milk, cocoa powder, salt, and butter—in that order—and stir over medium heat.
  2. Continuously stir the mixture while heating. It’s done cooking when it is as thick as brownie batter and moves thickly across the pan. It usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Do not allow it to come to a boil. If it starts to boil, reduce heat and continue stirring vigorously. 
  3. Remove from heat immediately. Place mixture in aside to cool for a few minutes
  4. On a large plate, spread your sprinkles evenly. 
  5. Once the mixture is cool enough to handle, grease your hands with butter or non-stick spray, and vigorously roll the Brigadeiro into little balls.
  6. Gently roll balls into the sprinkles and place them in candy cups or a decorative box. Best if kept refrigerated.

“I don’t even remember the first time I made this,” Lacerda said. “All the kids in Brazil make this on their own birthdays. All the parties since we were babies.”

I guess if a baby can do it, then so can I. And after watching her make these, I can attest that they are actually easy to make and only need five ingredients. My hands will never be the blur of motion that has known years of culinary devotion, but I am lucky to know someone like Lacerda who can show me. She can teach one many things about the culture and foods of Brazil (Marcina Lacerda’s adventures around the world can be followed on Instagram @marcinaroundtheworld).

Traditional Brigadeiro is adorned with chocolate sprinkles where it stands out against the vivid tropical palette of Brazil. Since we are in the middle of winter in Colorado, Lacerda wanted to add the colors of home to her creation. She used rainbow sprinkles instead.

Brightly colored sprinkles are just one of the personal touches you can give Brigadeiros. Jordan Callier photo

The Brigadeiro can also be made with non-traditional ingredients such as coconut, lime, or even white chocolate. An elegant Brazilian tradition is to put these into decorative boxes and give them as gifts.

When I asked Lucerda about Eduardo Gomes, she said that she never heard of the connection between him and the Brigadeiro dessert. I confirmed this with several other Brazilian friends who thought it was a cute story.

While Gomes was well-known in politics during his day, he never actually was elected to the presidency. He continued to be a large and loud presence in Brazil until his death in the early 1980s. Maybe the old cliche about winners writing history is true in this case.

Even if Gomes isn’t memorialized as a great leader of Brazil, he will live on through the Brigadeiro. He undoubtedly did great things for Brazil, but he will be most remembered because of the women who adored him.

Politics have always been messy and sometimes ruthless. Much like the political figures of today, Gomes was loved by one side and despised by the other. Behind his handsome face, he had ambitious plans and a real connection to the people. There was love in politics.

As divided as all of us are today, we should look to the Brazilians and the Brigadeiro. Derived from politics, it is beloved by those on all sides today. If chocolate can’t bring us together, then nothing can. Who will love us enough to immortalize their affection?

JC Breakfast & Lunch opens in Carbondale

When Trino Camacho moved from Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico to the Roaring Fork Valley at the age of 14, he couldn’t even cook an egg.

But he still had a dream.

“‘One day I will have my own breakfast place,'” Camacho recalled telling his uncle as a teenager.

So, Camacho got his foot in the kitchen working part-time as a dishwasher at a bistro in Basalt.

It wasn’t long before Camacho worked his way up from cleaning pots, pans, plates and silverware in the dish pit to preparing dishes as a line cook.

“I fell in love with cooking,” Camacho said. “It took some time, but I just kept learning.”

In December, Camacho opened his first restaurant – JC Breakfast & Lunch – in Carbondale.

Located at 914 Highway 133 and named after his daughter Jessia and son Christopher, the new eatery, as its name suggests, offers breakfast and lunch offerings from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day.

In addition to traditional breakfast fare, JC’s menu also offers eggs Benedict, omelets, breakfast burritos, pancakes, crepes and French toast.

Camacho was particularly proud of his restaurant’s take on the classic breakfast offering huevos rancheros.

Comprised of two eggs, corn tortillas, beans, pepper jack, cheddar cheese as well as red and green salsa, huevos rancheros also comes with a side of hash browns, for $11.50.

JC Breakfast & Lunch’s huevos rancheros. Matthew Bennett/Post Independent

“Everything we do, we do with love,” Camacho said.

JC’s lunch offerings, which customers can order all day, range from hearty burgers and Philly cheesesteak to fettuccine Alfredo and Caesar salad.

The Philly Cheesesteak at JC’s Breakfast & Lunch. Matthew Bennett/Post Independent

JC Breakfast & Lunch does not sell alcohol, however Camacho hoped to start serving mimosas and bloody marys in the coming weeks. The restaurant also offers a wide selection of milk shakes and smoothies.

Camacho said his first experience in customer service was actually going door-to-door in a small town near Guadalajara to sell ice pops.

The young entrepreneur milked his grandfather’s cows in the morning and sold his uncle’s ice pops in the afternoon in addition to attending school while living in Mexico.

Camacho, who co-owns JC Breakfast & Lunch with his wife Jessica, said had it not been for his humble beginnings, owning his own restaurant would have never come to fruition.


Weekend Dish column: Melt hearts with cheese and chocolate fondue

Love is love, and it should be something that we feel for ourselves and others every single day. 

It comes in so many different colors and shades, while leaving us vulnerable to pain. Yet, to truly feel it is one of the most profound experiences in life. There is no such thing as too much love in this world. I daresay we need it now more than ever.

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about love. But the cynic in me wonders if it isn’t a capitalistic ploy to cash in on our most sacred feelings. Like so many of our holidays, it can be meaningful or commodified. It is what you make it.

Valentine’s Day has ancient roots in Western society. It originated as an early Christian feast day to celebrate Valentinus — also known as Saint Valentine. His saga is one of martyrdom and persecuted love.

Saint Valentine of Rome was famously imprisoned for marrying soldiers, who were forbidden to marry, and preaching the Gospel of Christ to persecuted citizens. He must have felt deeply enough about love to defy the Roman Empire. Forbidden love is usually the most tantalizing.

The saint also sent the first Valentine. According to his legend, Saint Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his judge, even after he was sentenced to be executed. While awaiting execution, he wrote a farewell letter to the girl and signed it “Your Valentine.”

Saint Valentine was put to death on February 14, 269 (AD). He gave his life and became a martyr of love.

His sordid tale of love resonated throughout the Dark Ages. Still, it did not develop a romantic connotation until the days of Chaucer, in the 14th century, who put forth the notion of courtly love of chivalry. White knights saving distressed damsels became the archetype for Western romance.

In the 21st century, love has taken on new meanings and questions. We have expanded our acceptance of love while pondering the roles of gender and consent of intimacy. These questions aren’t fully worked out yet, but they are essential. What does Valentine’s Day mean to us now?

It is undoubtedly still commercialized. Some stores seem to put out Valentine’s merchandise in early autumn now. And advertisements always tell us that love is best expressed in diamonds or new luxury cars with a bow on top. 

While it’s fine to use cash to express love, the most valuable memories come from shared experiences. Also, food is usually the key to another heart.

Chocolates are divine, and champagne is thrilling, but fondue is for lovers. The melting dance of pungent cheeses and rich chocolates is the perfect metaphor for love. Unique flavors swirl together seamlessly over a slow-burning flame. 

Fondue is an experience to share. A variety of foods such as beef, cheese, and chocolates can be prepared in this Swiss tradition. The food is cooked in a pot and then shared with loved ones.

Fondue pots work best, but you can also use slow cookers and even a cooktop. Fondue is an art form to be perfected, the slow burn of an intimate dance. 

The key is to find the right level of heat. If the flame burns too hotly, then the ingredients can scorch. On the other hand, if the temperature is not high enough, nothing will happen. The intensity of the heat is essential to properly blend the flavors.

Fondue needs attention and care while cooking. It must be stirred frequently to avoid scorching. If you use a fondue pot, there is also the hazard of an open flame. Always observe the directions for the fondue pot and fuel source. You don’t want your romantic evening to end in fire. At least not those kinds of flames.

For my cheese fondue, I used a combination of Swiss, mozzarella, and Fontina cheese, which originates in the Aosta valley. Other cheeses that can be used include gruyere, gouda, or even cheddar. Sharper and “meltier” cheese works best. A splash of white wine also adds a more robust flavor.


Sliced and grated cheese for fondue.

(Serves 2-3 people)


1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

2 cups Swiss cheese, grated

1 cup Fontina cheese, grated

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup white wine

1 stick butter

1 tablespoon corn starch or flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Splash of lemon


1. Mix cheese with corn starch or flour, seasoning and toss well. Make sure cheese is finely grated.

2. In a fondue pot, slow-cooker or saucepan, bring the wine, milk, butter, and lemon juice to a simmer over medium-low heat. Slowly stir in cheese mixture and continue to cook over medium-high heat until mixture is smooth and creamy. If it’s too thick, add more milk. If it’s too thin, add more cheese.

3. Serve with an assortment of toasted bread, vegetables, or crackers. Dip these directly in the pot, and pair with a white or Rosé wine.

Chocolate fondue can be made in a few different ways. Melting chocolate is available specifically for fondue. Baking chocolate works well, too. Dark, milk, sweet, semi-sweet and white chocolate are also possible options. Chocolate and love are both complex and unique and go together well.


Chocolate chips are ready for melting.

(Serves 2-3 people)


2 (24 ounces) packages semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup milk or heavy cream

1 /2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon corn starch or flour

1/2 teaspoon salt


1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Make sure chocolate is finely chopped. A food processor works well for this.

2. In a fondue pot, slow-cooker or saucepan, slowly stir in mixed ingredients over medium-high heat. Stir constantly until smooth and blender. If the mixture is too thick, add some more milk or cream.

3. Serve with an assortment of fresh fruit, cookies, or cakes. Dip these directly in the pot, and pair with white wine or Prosecco.

Fondue can be made with the finest ingredients and served with the most expensive wine. It can also be made using inexpensive products and cheaper wine. Quality is usually costly, but the most crucial thing about fondue is that it is a shared experience. This is how love grows.

Strawberries drizzled in chocolate fondue.
Jordan Callier photo

Share this with your love any night of the year. Like fondue, there are many different flavors of love. The heat from a single flame can melt us together and fill our lives with meaning. This is the essential human experience, and sometimes it’s worth the pain. With hearts on fire, we come together for love.

Jordan Callier is an avid foodie and business owner in Glenwood Springs.

Sunlight Ski Spree and Taste of Sunlight 2020 (w/video)

Patina Grille owner Jessica Hale and Madison Potter serve up some
steak and shitake skewers, ginger sesame aioli, cucumbers with a salmon dip. crostinis with bleu cheese spread and apple chutney pulled pork at the fourth Taste of Sunlight, held as part of Saturday’s Ski Spree celebration at Sunlight Mountain Resort.

John Stroud/Post Independent

Ski Spree glee this weekend with Taste of Sunlight, treasure hunt, torchlight parade, fireworks

Ski Spree, Sunlight Mountain Resort’s annual winter festival, returns this weekend with lots of fresh powder from a huge snowstorm expected just in time for the celebration.

The event includes a two-day Mountain Treasure Hunt both Saturday and Sunday. But most of the festivities, including the fourth annual Taste of Sunlight takes place during aprés ski on Saturday.

Some of the Roaring Fork Valley’s top restaurants are participating in the Taste this year, and tasters will have the chance to vote on their favorites, according to Sunlight Sales and Marketing Director Troy Hawks.

Participants try samples from different area restaurants during the 2017 Taste of Sunlight at Ski Spree.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

Scheduled to provide the eats are The Pullman, Carbondale Beer Works, Patina Bar & Grille, Heidi’s Deli, Uncle Pizza, Jimmy Johns, Sweet Coloradough, Qdoba, the Sunlight Mountain Inn, and Sunny Pop and taco samplings from Sunlight’s Compass Mountain Grill food truck.

Although not a restaurant, Roaring Fork Spice — a regular at several area festivals and in local boutiques — will also be in on the action.

The tasting begins at 3 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $15, and are available online at SunlightMTN.com, or at the mountain the day of the event.

Adult beverage samplings will be available for an extra $5 from Evergood Elixirs, Pacifico, New Belgium and Colorado Native. A souvenir Taste of Sunlight cup is part of the deal, Hawks said.

Awards will be presented at 5:30 p.m. to the top three restaurants as voted on by the tasters, immediately followed by the Fire & Ice Torchlight Parade and Fireworks Show, sponsored by ANB Bank, at 6 p.m.

Fireworks over the Sunlight Mountain base area during a past Ski Spree.
Powder Street Photography

The Mountain Treasure Hunt starts at 9 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. Participants will search the mountain for the oversized ANB Bank dollar bills, and redeem them in the Guest Services Office for prizes, including a free 2020-21 season pass to be given out on Sunday. 

Sunlight Ski Spree schedule of events

Saturday and Sunday

9 a.m. — Lifts open, Mountain Treasure Hunt begins

Saturday only

3 p.m. — Taste of Sunlight begins

5:30 p.m. —  Taste of Sunlight awards and prize giveaway

6 p.m. — Fire & Ice Torchlight Parade and Fireworks Show

The torchlight descent of Sunlight Mountain during a past Ski Spree event.
Powder Street Photography

Capitol Deli moves to new location

Dusti Budd credits fate in finding a home for Capitol Deli, her East Coast-style deli, in the heart of Rifle.

She hadn’t been looking to move the deli, which opened in May of 2018 in New Castle at Lakota Clubhouse. Budd said during a conversation with one of her purveyors the Railroad location was mentioned.

“Actually it was kind of weird, this place fell in my lap,” Budd said.

Budd, who has been in the industry for her entire working career, knew at an early age she wanted to run her own restaurant, her father chef Stephen Lloyd operated the original Capitol Deli in El Jebel before selling in the early 2000s.

“I always wanted to run it, when he sold it I wasn’t quite in a position to yet,” Budd said.

She began doing business plans and taking college courses, and it all just kind of came together almost two years ago.

Budd said they were really busy during the summer at their previous location, but during the winter it died down, so she jumped at the chance for the old location of Milano’s Pizzeria in the 800 block of Railroad Avenue.

“I talked to the owner of the building, and here we are,” Budd said.

After closing the New Castle location in November, Budd began remodeling parts of the building’s interior.

“A lot of my work was in the kitchen directly — we ripped everything out, put in a new hood, and restructured it for a deli, not a pizzeria,” Budd said.

The deli opened two weeks ago Friday, and Budd said business has been busy so far.

Formerly located in New Castle, Capitol Deli recently relocated to Railroad Avenue in Rifle.

“It has been crazy, and we are real appreciative to that,” Budd said. “It can be overwhelming at the same time, as we move our training process and people getting more comfortable things will smooth out a little bit.”

With 12 employees, Budd said one of the hardest parts is training new staff.

“We’d love to try and start training before we opened, but realistically you really can’t fully train until you’re going,” Budd said. “I want people to understand we are trying our hardest. We appreciate all the support since we opened.”

The East Coast-style deli menu items include the traditional Philly cheesesteak and Reuben sandwiches, rotisserie chicken and ribs. Budd said they also make some sandwiches that her dad and his partners came up with over the years.

“A popular one we started at the New Castle location was our rotisserie prime rib, and we will do that every third Thursday of the month,” Budd said.

Capitol Deli also offers catering with their full menu, and do special request with notice.

As the deli gets settled in, Budd has some plans for the summer and the future.

“The owner is building on a nice patio, so this summer hopefully we can utilize that a little more,” Budd said.

Budd said she also plans to work with the city of Rifle and the state of Colorado on trying to secure a beer and wine license.

But for Budd, it’s about family first, and the experience with the people she meets and comes across.

“I’ve met a lot of neat people and supporters throughout, including local restaurant owners. That’s what it’s about I think,” Budd said.

“Being in the restaurant industry you have to continuously look for ways to improve, grow, open new doors, and being able to deliver something that people enjoy.”


The Weekend Dish: Luck is best served with cornbread

The year 2020 is barely one month old, yet it already feels like a year has passed. In between viral epidemics and political disintegration, we face increasingly tumultuous times.

On an individual level, there’s not much we can do to change things. As intractable as our problems seem, we must hold out hope more than ever.  

The magic of the holiday season has faded along with many of our lofty resolutions and forgotten treadmills. Maybe we can have a do-over of the New Year in February and pretend that January never happened? Alas, if only life worked like that.

Goals and hard work do lead to success at any time of year. Still, sometimes luck plays its devious hand and reshuffles everything into chaos. 

I don’t believe in luck until I do. Usually, I lament my lousy luck if things don’t work out or praise my good fortune if things do. I am skeptically superstitious, but I like to play with a full deck just in case.

When we feel out of control, and circumstances are impossible to change, we hope for a higher force or universal justice to intervene on our behalf. It sucks to feel powerless.

Many cultures around the world take luck and superstition very seriously at New Year. If specific protocols, prayers or food rituals aren’t followed correctly, then calamity could rain down on the unlucky souls for the rest of the year. If this is true, then 2020 needs all the help it can get.

Lucky food

Food has a central role in many of these beliefs. In my research for this column, I found some interesting themes. 

For instance, many different nationalities from Italians to the Japanese, believe that pork is good luck. The saying “high on the hog” describes the most choice — and expensive — cuts of pork. Traditionally, the wealthy could only afford such cuts, while the peasants would eat cuts that were “low on the hog.” This is certainly not an auspicious time if you are a pig.

Some of the other common good luck food charms across the world include beans, collard greens, noodles and fried dough. 

The Japanese cautiously slurp soba noodles for long life. The trick is to suck them up without breaking or chewing them. If you fail at this, the consequences could be dire. 

Of course, for the French, Germans, and Italians, fortune can be found in fried dough and chocolate cake. And somewhat disturbingly, the Scandinavians believe that pickled herring is the secret to prosperity and bounty, while the Spanish eat 12 grapes to symbolize every toll of the clock at midnight.

Whether these foods are lucky or not, I’m all about eating them (except for the pickled fish). I don’t believe in luck, and I don’t want to take my chances, either.

Southern eatin’

Jordan Callier photo

You see, from an early age, I was indoctrinated in the mystical eating practices of the American South.

My grandmother, Janie Gerbaz, was raised in an extended family in Texas during the Great Depression. Her parents had many mouths to feed but no money. While many Americans suffered greatly during this era, my grandmother’s parents put her and her siblings to work on their farm. By raising their own food, they escaped the abject poverty that many others were experiencing. 

My grandmother still recalls her mother’s nearly traditional home-cooked meal.

“It was hard work to raise chickens or churn our butter,” Gerbaz said. “But it was worth it. Mama was famous in the countryside for her fried chicken, cornbread, biscuits, gravy and green beans.”

But there was one special treat that my grandmother still makes every year around the New Year: Black-eyed peas for luck and prosperity. It doesn’t get more Texas than that.

Black-eyed peas, or “cowpeas,” have a rich history in the American South. They aren’t much to look at, and their original purpose was to feed grazing cattle. Still, they gained their reputation after helping to sustain yet another generation of struggling Americans.

Like so much of American folklore, the legend of lucky black-eyed peas is a tangled mess of our history. During the Civil War, the United States came undone, and its people suffered. Some stories claim that these unremarkable legumes fed a starving town after its food was pillaged. Other stories connect black-eyed peas to West Africa and the slaves who brought them to America. 

The providence of this superstition is unclear, but it doesn’t really matter. Myths are often assembled from bits of truth, hope, and imagination. What matters is what these myths mean to us. Regardless of their origin, black-eyed peas became a symbol of survival and prosperity in the South and fed many generations of struggling Americans since. For them, hope became luck, and luck became survival and triumph over adversity.

When I asked my grandmother if she knew this history, she couldn’t really say with certainty. But she does clearly remember the ritual of making them with her mama.

“We grew black-eyed peas on the farm, so I never thought twice about eating them,” Gerbaz said. “Mama would always fuss over them for New Year’s, and she told us to eat them for prosperity. Always with cornbread.”

By themselves, black-eyed peas don’t have a strong flavor, but they absorb other flavors well. In classic southern tradition, the taste is usually added with pork, onions and pepper sauce. I like mine with a little curry and cinnamon for a more exotic flavor.

Black-Eyed Peas for Prosperity

(Serves about four people)


1 pound black-eyed peas, dried

1 cup sausage or sausage alternative

1 large onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 sweet peppers, chopped

4 small tomatoes

6 cups water or stock

1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

1 tablespoon curry

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons oregano

salt and pepper to taste


  1. Prepare beans per package instructions. Soak overnight for the best results.
  2. Add cooking to a large skillet and pre-heat to a medium-to-high setting. Add garlic and onion, and cook until lightly browned. Then add peppers, tomatoes, and sausage and continue to sauté until both sides are prepared, and tomatoes break down. Remove from heat and stir in seasoning.
  3. Combine vegetables, meat, water, and black-eyed peas in a large pot. Simmer on low for about two hours, or until mixture is cooked down to desired consistency.

Even if one month in 2020 feels like a year, and we feel powerless facing our problems, we must still hope and dream of a better future. Luck may be a coincidence, or perhaps fortune favors the bold. We must hold out hope while not forgetting the stories that make us. Let’s all eat a bowl of black-eyed peas while hoping for a prosperous future with a side of hot cornbread.

Back for seconds: Roaring Fork Restaurant Week gets cooking Feb. 1

From Snowmass to Glenwood Springs, roughly 50 eateries plan to participate in this year’s Roaring Fork Restaurant Week.

Beginning Feb. 1 and running through Feb. 9, participating restaurants in Snowmass, Basalt, Willits, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs are offering a smorgasbord of cuisines at special rates.

“Restaurants, let’s face it, are pretty much the backbone of any community,” said Beth Albert, Aspen Times advertising account manager and one of restaurant week’s organizers. “It’s a good way to promote trial of places that you’ve never tried before.”

Now in its second year, Roaring Fork Restaurant Week’s is sponsored by Glenwood Insurance. Participating businesses will offer prix fixe or á la carte menus at $10, $20 and $40 price points.

A prix fixe menu may include an appetizer, soup, salad, entrée and dessert all for a set price per person whereas a á la carte menu may include a course at one of the three price points.

“No matter what your budget is, you’re going to be able to find something that you’re going to want to give a try,” Albert said.

Additionally, among the various restaurants, breakfast, lunch and dinner options are available.

In addition to restaurants, Roaring Fork Restaurant Week also includes a handful of participating brewpubs, distilleries and tasting rooms.

“We are offering a branded glass promotion where customers, when they buy a full pour, can keep the glass after finishing their drink,” said Taylor Matson, Casey Brewing Taproom assistant general manager. “We are right in the restaurant area in downtown Glenwood, and we wanted to give something back to the community.”

Not wanting to compete with Valentine’s Day crowds, organizers selected Feb. 1 through Feb. 9 for restaurant week due to it being a slightly less busy time.

“There isn’t anybody that doesn’t like to go out to eat,” Albert said. “It also gives people the opportunity to support their local restaurants during a slower time of the year.”

For a complete listing of participating restaurants and specials, visit rfrestaurantweek.com.

Roaring Fork Restaurant Week’s community sponsors include: Visit Glenwood, Basalt Chamber of Commerce, Carbondale Chamber & Tourism, Willits Town Center and Snowmass Colorado.