peas, please

000_0790How many essays have been written extolling the exquisite taste of fresh-picked peas? Recent connection with the mother plant is a virtue that we seek in all vegetables, of course, but none more so than those, like peas and corn, that begin converting sugars to starch the moment that connection is severed. That fresh-picked sweetness is one of the luxuries of human life that does not require vast sums of money. It requires instead a willingness to let the garden tell us what’s for dinner and when.

This is my first year growing peas, and they’re not ready yet. But as I watch them grow, I’m aware of something that either has gone unmentioned or unnoticed in the pea-writing I’ve encountered over the years. Those stories of casual suppers centered on the perfectly-timed pea harvest require a luxurious quantity of the little legumes. Last week at the farmers’ market, I bought a bag of peas in their pods. It was a pretty sizeable bag—the size of a lumpy basketball—but after shelling I had a little less than a cup. Looking the number of pods beginning to form on my 15 or so pea vines, I would be surprised if my entire yield comes to as much. 

I put a lump of butter into the pan, followed by the peas and some snipped chives, then about a minute later some lettuce and splash of vermouth. These peas were a couple of days out of the garden, but they were still awfully tasty. When my own meager crop comes due, I don’t think I’ll be sharing.

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