I Love (Some) Peas

black eyed peas mac and cheeseThe verdict is in and I’m gratified to learn I’m not the only one who detests little green peas. Based on comments I received after posting last week’s column on Facebook, there are plenty of folks who share my opinion on this vilest of vegetables. A sampling of what some of my Facebook friends said:

  • Le Sueur Peas are proof that the devil exists.
  • I always called green peas cold vegetables because by the time I ate everything else on my plate, the peas were like iceballs.
  • When my husband was a boy, he used to swallow green peas whole—like medicine—so he wouldn’t have to taste them.
  • My parents seemed to think that Le Sueur peas were gourmet food. Probably because they were soft and overcooked like most vegetables on Southern dinner tables.
  • I used to stir green peas into the instant mashed potatoes my mother served so I could disguise the taste.
  • A dollop of peanut butter makes frozen green peas palatable. But nothing can help the canned ones.

I also had people ask if I hate all peas, or just green peas, which should rightly be called garden peas, sweet peas or English peas. Not to be confused with snow peas or sugar snap peas, which—unlike English peas, which must be shelled–are usually eaten with the pod on. Is that confusing enough?

I don’t hate all peas. I can choke down raw snow peas or sugar snap peas, though they’re not a food I would ever seek out. But there are several kinds of peas I adore, including black-eyed peas, crowder peas, purple hull peas and field peas.

When I think about those peas, I can’t help but remember a time almost thirty years ago when friends who, as the saying goes, “weren’t from around here” took their two-year-old daughter Lindy to lunch at the restaurant at the old Rice Motel, which was known for its outstanding Southern cooking.

They ordered Lindy a child’s plate of macaroni and cheese and peas.

When the order arrived, everyone at the table was shocked at the appearance of the peas. “We never expected them to be brown,” her mother told me. “We assumed peas meant green peas.” But Lindy scarfed them down and was soon asking for black-eyed peas by name. She loved them so much, in fact, that she once shoved a black-eyed pea up her nose and had to be taken to the emergency room when her distraught parents couldn’t remove it.

A couple of people who read my haiku in last week’s column asked if my mother really forced me to eat Le Sueur peas while not being willing to eat them herself. The answer is yes, at least until I got old enough and articulate enough to convince her of the gross injustice of such an arrangement.

As to whether I ever forced little green peas upon my own children, no. The only green peas allowed in my kitchen are one-pound bags of frozen ones. Which I don’t consider food, but a handy-dandy flexible ice pack, perfect for soothing sore muscles or painful sunburn.

The only acceptable use for this vilest of vegetables.

(August 30, 2015)


2 thoughts on “I Love (Some) Peas”

  1. I share your revulsion regarding canned peas, but frozen and fresh peas are a different matter. It’s like they’re not even the same vegetable… I like frozen and fresh peas a lot!

  2. I eat my peas with honey
    I’ve done it all my life
    It makes the peas taste funny
    But it keeps them on my knife.

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