Making Peace with Peas
Who could be afraid of the humble garden pea, I hear you ask? Someone with a woman living upstairs who frequently likes to play her alternative music all about the nutritional composition and caloric density of peas compared with more voluminous vegetables very loudly....that’s who.
Yet, my inner creative spend-thrift-come-eco-warrior strikes again, prodding those floorboards and getting her to turn that music down a notch. I’m quite proud of this story. Not only does it tick the green, creativity and frugality boxes (in more ways than one), I also feel like I have done my parents a small favour....a drop in the ocean compared to the favour they currently do me in letting me live under their roof and take over their house with books, tea and rubber ducks...but a small favour, nonetheless. And very small things can make all the difference, as the story of The Princess and the Pea appropriately demonstrates. Though, I ain’t no princess...and this story involves a far greater preponderance of peas.
Dad had come back from the supermarket with a new bag of frozen peas: a staple foodstuff in any British family home freezer, I hope you’ll agree. I mean, you must agree...because, apparently, in these u n p r e c e d e n t e d times, Tesco had completely run out of every kind of petit pois and only had a few bags of cheap garden peas to sniff at. There had evidently been some stock-PEAling going on.
These garden peas had their debut when my parents had pie and mash one evening. I sat across from them slurping at my soy sauce doused noodles with chopsticks, pretending to be cultured. There wasn’t much conversation.
Until,...Mum pipes up. “Is it me or are these peas rock hard?”
“They are a bit, yeah”, says Dad.
However, the peas themselves couldn’t be blamed until it had thoroughly been ruled out that Dad had steamed them properly, long enough to soften. So, the garden peas had a matinee a few days later.
This time, not liking to be on the outside of any thorough discussion on quality analysis, I added about ten peas to my egg-fried rice that evening, enabling me to be a properly informed voice in the conversation. Ten peas at the time felt like quite the achievement, and I gleefully blabbed about how proud I was of myself in my food diary to give to my clinician. However, and most importantly, the peas were indeed rock hard. They were henceforth referred to as the “bullet peas”.
Initially, we all resolved to do our bit and chip away at the bullet peas until they were gone, before hopefully investing in a new bag of petit pois. I was okay with this decision, because I knew that doing “my bit” only required me to consume about twenty to thirty or so peas over the next few weeks...the other 800g my parents would handle, as with other such things like loaf crusts and abnormally small pittas.
However, a couple of weeks later, as I was getting ready for work one morning, my Mum announced out of the blue that she couldn’t bear the bullet peas taking up valuable freezer space any longer. “I think I’ll just put them in the food waste, and we’ll just resolve never to buy that brand again...I mean, we’ve done our best with them."
The inclusion of “resolve” and “done our best” was Mum’s way of trying to counter the cognitive dissonance she felt about wasting food. It appeared to be working for her, but bullet-like or not, the thought of almost a kilo of peas going into the food waste bin disproportionately distressed me. My noisy upstairs neighbour has no qualms about wasting food. However, I myself am acutely prideful in my values of creativity, frugality and waste reduction. An opportunity to employ all three seemed too good to miss. I felt a steely determination to put the peas to good use, even if it meant actually having to consume some of the blasted things.
I’ve made a helpful rule that, to truncate any attempts the woman upstairs makes to get me to fuel my food obsession by cooking for everyone around me but not touching what I cook with a bargepole, that if I want to cook or bake, I have to eat it. This stops the house filling up with an unbearable amount of muffins and sourdough loaves. There’s enough of them on people’s lockdown Instagrams, after all.
So, I hereby present to you, my very own pea and mint soup. It tasted pretty damn good, and the peas bore no resemblance to bullets once the blender had finished with them. And I even put creamy stuff in it. There's now a lovely size space in the freezer ready for some new, hopefully less al dente, petit pois. What’s more, my soup was ‘normal’ enough that both my ‘rents had a bowl, too. Drop me a message if you'd like the recipe. Although your version won't include the nutritional information, because I'm not about promoting that sort of behaviour.
As I was reflecting on this tale, I was indeed chuffed by my creative undertaking. I was also chuffed that this meant again, that I do, and can, prioritise values other than those dictated to me by Mrs A. And, I'm chuffed that I've made peace with peas. Though, the funny thing is...if it had been a bag of oven chips, I'd have had no issues with the lot going out with the green bin. So, maybe there's still room for improvement.
“We are kept keen on the grindstone of pain and necessity.” H.G. Wells, The Time Machine