Peas are cooked as a
vegetable in many cultures.
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Types of pea
The immature pea is
called the garden pea. It is sold fresh (usually in
the pod), tinned, or frozen.
The mature pea, which
dries naturally in the field, is known as the marrowfat
pea. This name is recorded by the OED as early as
1733. It is grown mainly in Britain, but many are exported
to the Far East. One of the oldest export varieties,
popular in Japan for the last hundred years, is called Maro.
This has led some people to assume mistakenly that the
English name marrowfat is derived from Japanese. In
Japan and other Far Eastern countries, such as Thailand,
Taiwan and Malaysia, the peas are roasted and salted, and
eaten as snacks. In the UK, marrowfat peas are used to
make pease pudding, a traditional dish.
Ways of eating peas
Dried peas are often made
into a soup or simply eaten on their own. Fresh peas are
often eaten boiled and flavored with butter
as a side dish vegetable. Fresh peas are also used in pot
pies, salads and casseroles. Pod peas (particularly sweet
varieties called mangetout and sugar peas)
are used in stir fried dishes.
In the UK, dried,
rehydrated and mashed marrowfat peas, sold as
"processed peas" but usually known by the public
as "mushy peas", are popular, originally in the
north of England but now ubiquitously, and especially as
an accompaniment to fish and chips or meat pies,
particularly in chippies or fish and chip shops. Sodium
bicarbonate is sometimes added to soften the peas.