Fresh field peas - black-eyes, crowder, whiteacre, etc.- seem particularly and peculiarly southern. And fresh black-eyes are the most extreme. I don't know where else you could find them except the south, in late summer and early fall.
While some folks were traumatized as children by the forced labor of shelling peas, I have only happy memories of it. Because I spent the majority of my growing-up years in south Florida (which was full of "Yankees" at the time), the only time I saw these peas was at my grandmothers' homes in north Florida. It seemed special to me, something just the older members of my family and other folks from the backwoods of Florida did. Seeing these peas at the market brings back their raw smell as you pop open the shell, the feel of the filmy cover between the peel and the seed, and the plunk of the peas in the metal bowl. I can almost feel my feet dangling off the end of the porch swing...
Anyway, I bought me some peas and cooked them up for the "Cafe" on Monday. Here's the recipe:
SOUTHERN BLACK-EYED PEAS AND GREENS SOUP
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup diced and peeled sweet potato
A handful of chopped greens (we used mustards this week)
1 1/2 cups fresh black-eyed peas
3 cups water or vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups chopped, undrained canned tomatoes
Grated cheese and/or an ice cream scoop of rice on top (opt.)
Sauté the chopped onions in olive oil till tender and translucent. Stir in salt, coriander, and cumin. Add sweet potatoes, greens, and black-eyed peas and cover with about 3 cups water or vegetable stock (or enough to cover and allow space to boil). Bring to boil, then simmer till vegetables are tender (15 minutes or so). Add canned tomatoes and adjust salt.
Serve with grated cheese and/or a scoop of rice - and plenty of pepper sauce.