(Now I've never made mushy peas before, and though I have traveled to and in the UK, I've never had them. I'm not sure how this is possible because it's the kind of simple dish that I jump at on a menu, especially served with a nice fish and chips.)
First, I'm reading James Joyce's Dubliners. In one of the chapters, The Gallants, a man feasts on "a plate of hot grocer's peas, seasoned with pepper and vinegar...He ate his food greedily and found it so good that he made a note of the shop mentally." This always happens to me - I read something that starts a craving! But who knows what hot grocer's peas are? An annotation in Dubliners says that grocer's peas are large, pale processed peas, closer to pease pudding than to fresh peas. Pease pudding (or pottage) is, as it turns out, a thicker pea mash, and the ancestor of boiled peas. Regardless, I read "hot grocer's peas" and thought...mashed up green peas...yum.
Secondly, this morning I had four wisdom teeth yanked out of my head. Since I got IV sedation, I couldn't eat this morning and didn't want to eat after the surgery...until about 10pm. That's when I thought...mushy peas would be perfect! I can't really open my mouth that much and can't chew at all. I related this to my boyfriend, who inquired what in the world mushy peas were. My explanation was somewhere along the lines of - it's a British dish of mashed up green peas with salt, pepper, milk, and butter. Oh, he replied, baby food. Nooooo. So much better. And so much more complicated.
Researching on the good ol' internet, I found two basic camps for mushy peas. One in which frozen and/or canned marrowfat peas are acceptable. One in which only dried marrowfat peas are used. This latter group seems much more the purist, and I like that. Baking soda is added to the soaking process. This is what breaks up the peas. I vow to try the long version one day. But tonight, I took the easy way and made a single serving of mushy peas broken up with a potato masher. (I used English peas because that's what was in the freezer.)
MIDNIGHT MUSHY PEAS
1/2 cup frozen English peas
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
pinch of black pepper
1 Tbs milk
1/2 Tbs butter
- Boil the peas until they are done done.
- Season to taste.
- Add the milk and butter.
- Mash mash. Until the done done peas are broken up and the milk and butter are absorbed.