So, pea week was originally supposed to be “peas, sugar, snap,” but of course I had no idea there is actually just one whole kind of pea called sugar snap and another whole kind called just snap. I think I have some other peas further down on the list, but after a long conversation about the virtues of all the variations of peas with some people who care a lot less about this than I do but who humor me because I’m weird and pushy, I determined to try to do this week all the peas I could find. So, I’ve got sugar snap peas, snow peas, frozen garden peas and frozen sweet peas. I couldn’t find snap peas, despite the Internet telling me they’re real, and I didn’t buy canned. Everyone I talked to was incredibly vehement about not buying canned peas: “Whatever you do, don’t get canned peas.” It made me wonder if canned peas are poisonous or so lacking in nutritional value that they are actually detrimental to your health. And then of course I thought about my poor parents, who fed me canned peas my entire childhood (I didn’t even know frozen peas existed until last year, and even then I only used them as ice packs), which is probably why I hate peas so much, because somewhere deep down I must have known the dangers, and then I immediately feared for my parents’ lives and thought I should warn them of the biohazards in their pantry. Mom, Dad: Canned peas will kill you.
Since I haven’t had much history with most of the vegetables in this project, my usual lack of ideas is born of a real lack of knowledge, but since I “ate” canned peas (i.e., pushed them around on my plate for hours until I had negotiated my mom down to a mere bite or two that I would gag on and swallow dramatically before she finally let me leave the table) that were always prepared on the stovetop in the same tiny saucepan at least once a week as a kid, my lack of pea ideas is born of tunnel vision: I didn’t know there was any other way to prepare them.
I got my first chance to expand my pea brain Sunday night when I got the coolest invitation to a party at Seth and Amy’s house for the Jewish new year. I’m pretty sure Seth and Amy think I’m a total nutball for not eating vegetables and fall into the category of thinking I should be studied as a NASA science experiment for my ability to survive in this state. Seth kindly asked what my vegetable for the week was, at which point I excitedly offered to bring a pea side. He warmly accepted, but I could hear him hoping he already had enough food otherwise. He knows I can’t cook.
Fortunately for Seth and his guests, and me, I didn’t intend to cook. Brilliant Supporter Erica C., who also grew up not eating veggies but has since discovered that most vegetables can be tolerated with enough cheese or animal fat, had that day given me her recipe for a salad with peas in it. A salad wouldn’t normally pass muster for an entire dinner for me, but it was perfect for a party. All I had to do was go to the farmer’s market and pick up the stuff to go in it. That’s all I had to do. That’s it.
Do you get the feeling this whole project will eventually turn into my adventures and missteps at the grocery store rather than how I’m actually learning to cook and eat vegetables? Me, too. I’ll refocus. But in the meantime, wanna know what I couldn’t find this time? The lettuce. I promise I’ll just take a fucking chaperone next time. I promise.
At home I put together Erica’s super awesome salad, which is easy and can be modified any number of ways:
- Greens (I used mixed field greens)
- Frozen peas (I used frozen sweet peas, and apparently you don’t have to do anything to them, just let them thaw and toss them in, I’m really glad I asked about this because I was about to put those fuckers on the stove and we might have have a hot pea salad…yum)
- Carrots (Obviously I didn’t use carrots)
- Raisins (Erica said you can use any color, I used golden)
- Cheese (Erica said you can use any kind, she’s been using feta lately, I used goat cheese because I couldn’t find feta and I’m just feeling the love for goat cheese right now)
- Crunchy bits (Erica said to use croutons or chow mein noodles, neither of which I could find at YDFM, so I used unsalted sesame sticks, they were great)
- Dressing (Erica said two different dressings but all I heard was balsamic vinaigrette, so I got that, because that’s my favorite, when I got to Seth and Amy’s they had a homemade balsamic vinaigrette and it was super)
The salad was lovely. I liked it, I ate it, I would eat it again. I couldn’t taste the peas. Randy, who was also at Seth and Amy’s, said in his most naysayer-like voice, uh yeah, you can’t taste them in salads. I wasn’t sure what to do with that information, so I just shot fire out my eyes at him for being a naysayer while I considered the point of putting peas on a salad if you can’t taste it. I’m pretty sure the point is to taste my food, but I keep running into all these veggies that are either tasteless or prepared in a way that masks their taste. What’s the point of that?
So, the salad was great, but I’m not sure why it has peas on it. Up next, sugar snaps.