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Peas drawing
Peas in pods

Every Sunday morning, Nana, my father's mother, would sit on a big wooden chair on the front veranda and, apart from chatting with everyone who passed by, she would shell peas she had picked from her garden. The peas grew along the side fence, bathed in early morning sunshine, reaching the height of the fence and meandering for most of the length of the back garden. The plants' tendrils clung to a haphazard pattern of bamboo sticks and chicken wire. Fed on the rakings of the chook yard, they thrived, feeding as many as 12 every Sunday lunch in spring.

In a Sunday morning ritual, Nana would get up early, stoke the wood fire and put a joint of mutton in a roasting pan with dripping kept from the previous week's roast. It would take all morning to cook. She added potatoes, and sometimes pumpkin, about an hour before the mutton was ready.

Meantime, she took a small bucket of pea pods and put it beside her chair. Then she placed a yellow enamel saucepan on her calico-aproned lap, and, one pod at a time, she would run a thumbnail along the top ridge and force it open. She used her other thumb to scoop the peas into the saucepan. As the peas hit the pan, they made a sharp plopping sound that became duller, the more peas that were added to the saucepan.

Then she collected mint from the flourishing patch beside the washhouse drain and added it to the peas, with a pinch of salt and cold water. The saucepan then joined the others bubbling on the stovetop.

These days, everyone I know buys peas from the supermarket freezer, already shelled, perhaps with additives to make them greener. They pop them into a microwave for a minute or so to cook.

Greengrocers still sell fresh peas in their pods, but they say they are more a novelty item. People buy a handful to eat raw, to remember pulling the pods from the plants and shelling them, just like Nana did. And to refresh the childhood memory of the taste of fresh peas.

Summer salad with frozen peas
1 iceberg lettuce
2 cups frozen peas
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
Handful raw button mushrooms, finely sliced
1 cup tasty cheese, finely grated
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 very big or 2 medium-sized tomatoes, sliced
4-6 rashers of bacon
Take a large bowl, preferably transparent, and place a layer of lettuce, about a quarter of the bowl's capacity. Cover with peas, then egg, then mushrooms. Sprinkle over cheese. Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard and lemon juice and pour over cheese layer. Rest in the fridge for an hour. Layer tomato slices on top of salad. Cook bacon until crisp then crumble over tomatoes.

This attractive and delicious salad is best made the day before eating. Make a very small bowl when making the large version of the salad so the appetite is satisfied without having to wait a whole day.

Anne Atkinson