Dorothy Graham Gast
Peas, corn, okra, tomatoes, squash, and sweet potatoes are as nutritious as they are tasty. Mainstays of southern diet, they provide a healthy alternative to meat and potatoes menu. One restaurant in Northport, Alabama, features a different kind of field pea on each day of the week. Reports of peas go back to 2300 BC and are eaten by an estimated 200,000 people a day worldwide. Paired with cornbread, peas provide protein to replace meat.
“Sure, I eat molasses with my peas, I’ve done it all my life,
It ain’t because it tastes so good, It keeps them on my knife.” Old country folksong.
So you thought black eyed peas were a country form of the more elegant green pea southerners call English pea. There are stories about dry peas being the only edibles let behind after Yankees had taken livestock, potatoes and corn. The dry pods kept for eating during the winter and planting the next season, sustained survivors left behind when the males of the households did not return from war. Peas, brought from Africa with the slave cargo, provided the protein and calories the keep families from starving.
Field peas, often called cowpeas, are a staple of the Southeastern United States with controversy about their origins. They are legumes grown in Asia, Africa, parts of southern Europe, and Central and South America. Peas flourished in the hot, dry fields that had nutrients exhausted by cotton and tobacco.
Its ability to pair with other plants like corn increased the food value from limited field space. The large seeds could be sown or scattered, in lightly cultivated soil, sprout quickly, and provide nitrogen for corn. The long runners climbed the corn stalks, fertilized the soil, and by heavy shade from leaves reduced the weeds that steal the limited moisture of hot, dry August days.
Farmers learned that when peas were picked and leaves grew sparse, they could cut the vine back to a hand’s length and watch the plants renew in the autumn rains. New growth meant that fresh peas graced the table until frost.
The many varieties have names like Purple Hull Pink Eye, Whippoorwill, Lady Pea, Red Ripper, California Blackeye, Black and white Holstein, Blue Goose, Monkey Tail, and Ozark Razorback. Since farmers saved seed to plant many families had crossbred distinctive varieties that bore the family name, like.
Regional favorites were debated but the many advantages of the multipurpose crop are accepted in many parts of the world. Farmers often sow seeds in the fields where corn has been harvested to provide green foliage for farm animals and wild animals. The dry foliage is easily stored for animal feed.
Peas are the subsistence food of many nations, the poor man’s manna.
Recipe for cooking green
Pinkeye Purple Hull Peas.
- 1 quart fresh shelled peas, washed
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 slices bacon or ½ cup cooking oil
- 2 quarts water
Cook in boiler at moderate heat for 30 minutes.
Serve with Cornbread, fried okra, corn on the cob, sliced ripe tomatoes and sweet potato pie.
wish I had some
That picture at the end made my mouth water LOL.
Yummy, I eat my peas with mayo and pepper sauce
Nothing like it. i can eat this all day with out a meat dish.
No molasses on my peas maybe a little on my cornbread
I love them but since dieting, I had to leave the peas off because they are high in calories.
Boiled okra with peas. Yum
my favorite with onion cornbread an mayo.oh yes.
Peas please with mayo, onion, fried corn, bread n butter pickles, sliced tomato, & cornbread Don’t think God made anything better than that !! No wonder I tilt the scales!!!
Bama mayonnaise and purple hull peas. That’s the ticket.
did i miss something – which restaurant?
Blue Plate Diner
Oh, no! I’ve never heard of this in north Alabama! My Mother did take peas made into a patty to resemble sausage in a biscuit for her school lunch! She said she was so embarrassed when a renegade pea would roll in front of an “rich” kid with a real meat!
yeah, but that rich kid probably has colon cancer now.
I remember my mother making “pea fritters” from left over black eyed peas when I was growing up.
Betty Maze Patterson, my mother called that pea sausage, and that was what my dad carried in his lunch at the mine back during the depression.
Bless their hearts, they had hard times!
Pea patties my mom made them so good
nothing better than fresh peas and other vegetables fresh from a garden
Pickle juice on my peas. Sweet pickles, homemade of course.
My granddad said people used to put syrup on everything. I believe it came from the great depression…it added calories.
Peas,corn,tomatoes,vinegar and corn bread. Not from Alabama but still know what is good!
That’s good eatin’
nothing but the best….
Homemade pear relish or pepper jelly with our peas
Green black eye peas with snaps and boiled okra, lambs quarters, home canned tomatoes, cornbread and turnips if ur lucky. Still my fav meal. Pile it up!
Yummy! Hellman’s mayo with mine, please!!
Lisa, I like Duke’s Mayonnaise better…
WHICH restaurant in Northport??? Don’t leave me hangin’ like that.
Somebody else said it was Blue Plate Diner.
Fried okra, peas, cornbread and pepper sauce!
Got to have cornbread, onions and sweet tea. Makes me hungry.
My husband loves any beans with mayo.
Purple hull peas…grew up with them in Alabama and now can’t find them in NC. Boy do I miss them.
I love mine with diced tomato and diced onion and fried okra. I mix it around and the tomato juice mixes with the pea juice with the crunch of the okra it is to die for. I need some right now.
My momma used to make the best fried okra,but the only place that serves it around here is Cracker Barrel,and I order it every time we eat there.
I cooked fried okra yeaterday as well,as stewed squash. Yummy
Secrest in Monroe has about four different varieties of purple hulls.
I guess I will have to grow my own then. Gotta dig out that pea sheller of Grandma Doris’s
We bought seed. She said it would do a 50′ row. We should have plenty.
Fried okra and peas slow cooked with ANY form of hog meat. Yessir
Thought I was the only one.
What’s with all the mayo???? Peas, tomato, biscuit, okra, and I am good!!lol
Thank you for some more peas and cornbread
I PUT PEANUT BUTTER IN MINE.
PEAS AND CORNBREAD…BACKBONE OF THE SOUTH..EAT YOU SOME..YOU WILL ALWAYS BE HAPPY
I went to the farmers market today and wanted to get some fresh peas but they didn’t have any yet…can’t wait for fresh peas and field corn…yum yum
the peas and honey song is “I eat my peas with honey, I’ve done it all my life. It makes the peas taste funny but it keeps them on my knife.”
Peas/beans, cornbread with homemade mayo base slaw! Yummm
SPICE OF LIFE !!!!
Love purple hull peas with mayo mixed in them with corn bread . You can take a person out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the preson
Love peas……and okra …..and corn…..and tomatoes……
My late dad loved molasses on his peas. I’m with Darrell on the mayo on peas.
I love peas – but UGH molasses.
Have probably eaten millions of them in 66 years. Trying for a billion. 🙂
Fresh peas with homemade pepper sauce and corn bread…add a few slices of onion and that is heaven.
Mayo in my beans & honey on my scrambled eggs…
I couldn’t live without my peas.
can eat my weight in fried – squaush, okera, tatters, Pintoes, butter beans, green beand cornbread
YES – field peas… this is the dish I remember my grandmother fixin’ from her garden-with okra… sure do miss this. I remember shelling them too when I was very young 🙂
Any type of field peas cooked with lots of bacon and some fried grits to go with it. You can’t get much more Southern than that!
As a child, I ate peas with a little ketchup. That was probably the way my wise mother got me to eat them. Several years and pounds later, I like them just fine w/o ANYthing except cornstick bread. Thank the Lord for all these blessings!
My grandma made the best field peas!
My grandmother used to say, “I eat my peas with honey. I’ve done it all my life. Sure makes the peas taste funny, but it holds them on the knife.”
My Grandpa Morgan always ate his English peas with his knife. I don’t know if he was doing this for the benefit of the children but I never saw him eat them any other way, never saw him drop one either.
That is s very old English nursery rhyme ….
R Morris Burroughs
So, what’s the restaurant in Northport you mention? I didn’t see it in the article?
Very good looking peas.
I wish I could get purple hull peas in Arizona. My guess, the Northport cafe is City Cafe.
City cafe? … best meat and three around !!
Missing those southern field peas
I think it might be Blue Plate or Mr. Bills.
Love my veggies.
Wish I could get some
Yes !! the peas pictured above are the field peas I grew up eating !!! My grandmother, and mother would cook them with okra…..I can remember being on the back porch with my grandmother shelling peas !!
Tish Gressang I can remember too! Front porch in my case. Miss those days!
Looks good I like peas
Great memories shelling peas ☺️
I love peas and more peas.
I think I was born shelling peas.
Love these peas.
Love fresh purple hull peas.
Pink eyed purple hull peas. Shelled every summer. Always went back to school with purple fingernails.