Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Veggie Tales: On Shelling Peas for the First Time
Last but certainly not least, I've been really interested in developing an appreciation for foods and ingredients I've never much liked -- particularly the fruits and vegetables that have been on my shit list for years. Neither Seth nor I have cared much for peas in particular, but we were both kind of excited to give them a second chance when they began showing up in our produce boxes.
The peas came in the shells, so I got to have the experience of shelling them by hand -- a completely new experience for me. We never ate fresh English peas that came in their shells when I was growing up (at least not that I remember), so I had no idea how to even go about it. Nothing a quick Google search couldn't fix though.
Honestly though, I have to say I really kind of enjoyed the experience, but then I've always enjoyed using my hands to work with and prepare food. I had saved our first batch of fresh peas to have with our Easter lamb, so I just sat with Seth and prepared them while we watched that wonderful New Yorker series on a quiet holiday afternoon. The pods filled the room with this wonderful green, springy smell. Plus, the act of splitting the pods, using my fingers to free the peas, and listening to the sound they made as they fell into the container I was using was satisfying on a really interesting level. I felt like I was doing something really simple, and healthy, and normal -- three concepts I wouldn't usually apply to my life. On the rare occasion I can, I notice it.
As I mentioned, I don't have the fond, idyllic childhood memories some people apparently have of sitting with a mother or grandmother and shelling peas together for a family dinner. My mother never actually liked to cook, so it's hard for me to even picture her willingly putting that kind of effort into preparing a vegetable when she could buy it in a can or in the frozen food aisle instead. I enjoy having that sort of connection to my food though, so I found it relaxing -- getting something delicious, and springy, and fresh ready for a special holiday dinner while I sat and talked with someone I love and care about. I remember thinking that that must be what "family" feels like.
And the peas were delicious. I mixed them with some baby carrots from the same produce box and they went perfectly with the lamb, gravy, and couscous I made for dinner. When we got peas in last week's box as well, I was really excited to shell them and serve them again, this time with one of Seth's amazing medium rare brisket burgers and a stuffed baked potato. Now I see why that meat, potato, and peas combination is considered such an American classic. It's because it really is delicious and comforting, just right for a time of year when it's no longer cold, but it isn't quite warm yet either.