|“Their pedigree is long, romantic, historic– possibly even prehistoric… .”|
Certain it is that the people of ancient Egypt ate them, for they have been found in a tomb near the remains of Thebes. And peas long dried were uncovered among the ruins of once great Troy, where they had remained buried in pottery jars of some thirty-four centuries.Theophratus, the Greek who is called the father of botany, and who died in 287 B.C., referred frequently to peas as a common vegetable of his land. They were mentioned, too, a short time before the birth of Christ by the Roman poet Virgil. Much later, in the Middle Ages, the writings of the time indicated that peas were grown as one of the chief guards against famine, and that they were given a major part in the rations, home and abroad, of medieval armies and navies.In England of that time, peas were so generally in use that the terms “pottage” and “porridge” came to be practically synonymous with peas, and nursery rhymes revolved around them– “Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold.” The people of the Middle Ages, unlike the ancients who used dried peas alone as food, cooked teh green pods whole, dipped them in sauce, picked out the peas, and then threw away the empty pods.It was the French… .
who first popularized the eating of shelled green peas, and at first they themselves regarded purely as a fad such treatment of this vegetable.
Madame de Maintenon, in a letter dated May 10, 1696, remarks: “The subject of peas continues to absorb all others. The anxiety to eat them, the pleasure of having eaten them, and the desire to eat them again are the three great matters which have been discussed for four days past by our Princes. Some ladies, even after having supped, too, returning to their homes . . . will again eat peas before going to bed. It is both a fashion and a madness.”
Well– the Brits did not go mad over the little petits pois. It’s thanks to the Brits that we in the colonies have large, smooth, and unwrinkled peas.