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Heirloom Black Eyed Peas

Heirloom Black Eyed Peas


From the good folks of Marsh Hen Mill in coastal NC.

We’ve wanted to offer Black Eyed Peas for a while now. No one is commercially growing them in theNortheast at present. They are a bit more heat-loving and long-seasoned it seems, and there is less of a culinary tradition for them up here.

There aren’t too many farm-direct sources we could find, but we were able to track down these B.E.P.s from Marsh Hen Mill, a diversified farm on Editso Island that specializes in grains and peas. As you may well know, they make for incredible eating, and are a staple in Southern cuisine, with Hoppin’ John being their perhaps most famous application. To that end, you should get some black eyed peas for now and some to stash in your pantry for making some Hoppin’ John for New Years. There are many versions of this recipe, some being as simple as 1 lb bacon + 1 pint peas + 1 pint rice. I’m not authority on southern cooking, but appreciated the deep dive Serious Eats did on Hoppin John here. And for the visually-inclined, there are numerous how-to videos on Youtube.

Importantly, these are not another common bean (P.Vulgaris) with roots in South America. These are V. unguiculata and trace their roots to Western Africa. There presence in southern cuisine is part of the complicated legacy from the nefarious transatlantic movement of enslaved humans that underpins southern cooking generally, from Creole cuisine to Geechee cuisine to barbeque.

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