The pea, in all its variants, has had a major role in world sustenance. It was one of the first foods that womankind learned to dry for storage, making it available in less prosperous times. The snow pea pod, however, is harvested prior to maturity to capture its delicacy and lightly crisp sweetness. It is a tendril-ed thing that reaches out and up as if asking to be taken. For all of that, it offers a rich, intensely vegetal flavor that speaks of its Asian influence.
There are two competing theories for how the snow pea acquired its name. When the snow pea pod grows out of the flower, it continues to wear the tiny white petals as a jaunty frosted cap, not unlike the snow-capped mountains from which it sprang. The second and more probable theory is that, being one of the earliest spring vegetables, the plant is frequently covered with late snowfalls, which it endures with a tendril tenacity.
Sometimes this almost translucent pod is called a Chinese pea. Many Baby-Boomers first tasted them in their local Chinese restaurants. Since then, snow peas have been welcomed worldwide onto the tables of those pursuing good flavors. Enterprising European farmers markets sell small containers of trimmed pods, for customers to munch while they continue their shopping. I’d vote for that.
On the website you can find several recipes previously found in these pages, including: Sautéed Snow Peas, Tendrils and Shoots, Fennel, Apple and Snow Pea Slaw and Shrimp and Snow Peas. For today, we’re suggest something a little more playful and refreshing. Trick Snow Peas, a recipe found in the wonderful cookbooks available for free at the market. These “trick” snow peas are a perfect choice for something cool and revitalizing after a hot summer day.