Slice of Life Story Challenge March 13 -The Lost Joy Of Shucking Peas
The Lost Joy of Shucking Peas
brief conversation with Vicki, my wife this morning about cooking set me to
doing some researching. Vicki said, ‘You must be itching to do some cooking
given that you’ve been away with work and haven’t been able to cook.’ I later
had a quick browse through our extensive collection of cooking books hoping for
the waft of an idea.
While searching for culinary inspiration, I stumbled across an entry in Bill Grainger’s food book ‘Holidays.’ I write ‘food book’ because that is what the title states. Not recipe book, but food book. The author is making a clear and deliberate distinction. Below Bill’s recipe for Tagliatelle with fresh peas and lemon, he extols the value of fresh peas.
‘Fresh peas are so wonderfully evocative of spring and another ingredient we seem to bypass in our modern lives. In an ideal world, we’d all spend half an hour a week on the back door step, shelling peas.’
This simple observation set me to thinking of a simpler time before frozen foods made us lazy. I vividly recall as a boy watching my mother sit with a generous pile of freshly picked green peas from our small backyard garden in her lap and patiently work through the process of shelling them into a waiting saucepan. She would use her thumb to prise open the pod before carefully running said thumb along the length of the pod directing the firm green peas into the waiting container. This process was called shelling or ‘shucking’ the peas. We also apply this term to oysters and corn.
Whenever my Nana visited, it never took long before she was drafted into the pea shucking business. Whenever I was allowed to share in the task, a significant number of peas failed to make it into the saucepan. For me fresh uncooked peas tasted delicious. I could never understand why so many kids found them not to their liking. Cooked with fresh mint and a pinch of butter made them irresistible.
The process of shucking peas has passed away like dickey seats in cars. We now reach into the freezer for the frozen variety. We have substituted freshness and flavour for convenience. We have along the way lost the therapeutic benefits of sitting down and exchanging pleasantries as we work our way through a pile of peas. There was something calm and contemplative about sitting around with a pile of peas. Thirty minutes on the veranda shelling peas sounds like the perfect antidote to the sometimes mad rush of our daily lives. Pass the peas please.