There is much to love about summers in New England. There’s the waves of blue hydrangeas, summer days in shorts and summer nights in sweaters. Lobster rolls in restaurants by the shore and Red Sox baseball at Fenway Park. And just like down South, the sweet smell of honeysuckle fills the early evening air as kids chase fireflies with Mason jars.
But there’s one thing New England can’t provide and the thought of that usually takes my southern heart below the iced-tea line.
I miss peas!
That’s right. I miss the produce that can only be found in the hot and humid climate of the south. I miss all the varieties of field peas grown in the deep south. Purple hull, crowder, white acre and zipper peas. Part of me just loves the buttery, creamy goodness of those delicate legumes and another part of me longs for the memories associated with those peas.
In my family, growing our own fruits and vegetables was a part of our culinary heritage. Not only did we prefer the taste of our homegrown produce, it was cheaper and was something our family did together. Whether it was being awakened by my dad to pick peas at 6am before the summer sun became unbearable or walking through rows of orchards with my mom filling our baskets to the rim with sweet juicy peaches, I made a connection with who I was and where I came from.
I can remember many summer days spent shelling peas until my thumbs were stained and tender. It was a family affair where my grandmother, dad, brother and I would shell the peas while we watched the Braves lose another ball game and my mom would be in the kitchen bagging the peas up for freezing.
For the last three summers, I have resorted to having freshly shelled peas shipped up to New England overnight on ice. Bailey’s Produce and Nursery in Pensacola, FL has always been my go-to. A little expensive, I know, but we all have our guilty pleasures. Somehow, having those little quart bags of green jewels in my freezer whenever I need a fix is worth every penny. During a power outage two summers ago, my first concern was saving the peas. I’m pretty sure I confused a few of my friends up here with the intensity I showed in saving my Southern imports.
But my need for peas is far more than a food craving. It is a part of me. A part of who I am. A connection to my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who have been gone for a while now.
So, its time to call my friends and family and order up another care package from Dixie. I’m ready for a shipment of peas, please!
Pictures from Bailey’s Produce and Nursery.