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Peas are usually categorised as a fruit, forming a cluster of edible seeds taken from a wide variety of legumes and plants.
Lightly boiled or steamed, the common green pea (also known as pisum sativum) serves up nicely with a bit of margarine or butter, basil, chives or even a few sprigs of spearmint. Other peas, such as chick peas, are soaked and cooked and then mashed with garlic and tahini to make the ever-popular houmous. They’re also great in veggie hotpots or stews. If you’re up for an alternative pea-eating experience and a bit of a tingling in the nose, try eating crunchy, wasabi-coated peas. Popular in Japan, wasabi is a spicy, green mustard which certainly hits the spot and is great for nasal decongestion – for those who dare!
Elsewhere, marrowfat peas are mysteriously turned into mushy peas, through a process of drying, re-hydration and mashing, with a number of additives and colours thrown into the mix. Appreciated more for their salty, processed flavour (and lurid colour) than anything else, mushy peas take on the form of a rather corrupted pea and come in a tin (rather than a pod). They also form part of any chip shop-goer’s staple diet!
If it’s nutrients you’re after then fresh or frozen green peas do the best job. Otherwise, you can eat the entire pod of snow peas and mange tout (which literally means ‘eat all’ in French). When fresh or slightly boiled, green peas are a good source of Vitamin C and also a range of B-Vitamins, Iron and Zinc. Aim to eat a few heaped tablespoons in order to get the goods.
And did you know that in 1940, Nazi German agent Otto Dietergartner plotted to bomb Buckingham Palace with tins of French peas? Three Nazi agents were discovered by Irish police in Dublin, carrying the primitive explosive, nitro-cellulose, which was packed inside hollowed tins labelled ‘GARRES - Petit Pois Français’. Luckily this particular mission was aborted as the terrible trio were stopped, following reports of suspicious behaviour. Photographs of these war-time plots (and tinned peas) can be viewed in a file in the National Archives at Kew in London.
So, the moral of that tale is to avoid tinned veg, source it fresh and locally and give peas a chance!
Simple pea soup recipe