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Black-eyed peas, a one-day wonder

Stashed in: Good Eats!, Gardening, Gardening, Legumes, Beans!

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I had no idea that the "black eyed peas" you get dried at Safeway are NOT the kind that Southern New Years Day traditions were built around! I think I will try growing some pinkeye purple hull cowpeas this year.

Nice. Technically they are beans:

A walk with him through the winter fields that surround the university offers many lessons. For one thing, the bag of dried peas you picked up at the grocery store for New Year’s Day was most likely grown in California. Chalky and bland, the buff pea with a black dot in its belly is to the true Southern field pea what iceberg is to lettuce.

Field peas are technically beans, and not at all like the green garden pea most of us know. Early in the season, whole young pods can be treated like green beans in the kitchen. Pulled from the pod and cooked, the peas have a flavor that can vary from meaty or spicy to delicately vegetal.

Here, the field pea is viewed more as a seasonal delicacy essential to a summer-vegetable plate or as a companion to slowly smoked pig. It is food with a deep history. The field pea first traveled to the southeastern United States from West Africa, brought by enslaved Africans.

Field peas don’t need a lot of water and can take a lot of sun. They adapt easily to wherever they are planted. As an alternative to cotton, they sustained both livestock and people who were too poor to afford other food. As a bonus, they act like a kind of green manure, putting nitrogen into a farmer’s field so other, more profitable crops can grow

Because the seeds were usually passed down through families, they come in so many varieties that no one has an exact count. They have the best names — turkey craw, washday, red ripper, old timer, whippoorwill. 

Different kinds have different applications in the kitchen. Crowder peas, named for the way they crowd into the pod, are big and meaty and mix well with rice. Cream peas are bright and delicate and mash well.

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