Peas are always ‘des petits pois’ even though they are bigger, harder, and less sweet than the frozen peas we are used to in the U.K. Peas, that are eaten while still in their pods, are called ‘Mange Tout’ (French for ‘eat all’) in English. It would seem reasonable that the name originated from the French language, but they are called ‘Pois Gourmand’ in French. French people are amazed that the peas we eat in the UK are bright green and they think this must be unnatural. Having been a Food Taster for Unilever, part of our work was to quality control Bird’s Eye peas. They are selected to be sweet, tender and green. By contrast, French peas that are sold in jars are grey-green. To find a sweet, tender frozen pea you have to seek out ‘Garden peas’. Derrière leur nom anglo-saxon, les Garden Peas sont des gros pois cultivés en Bretagne. Ils développent un goût sucré et une texture fondante auxquels on est peu habitué. = ‘Behind their English name, the Garden Peas are big peas, grown in Brittany. They develop a sweet taste and a melting texture which we are not accustomed to.’ Another proof, that tender peas are not the norm, is the recommended cooking times on packets of frozen peas. I thought there had been a printing mistake when I read that I must cook frozen peas for 8-14 minutes or 5-9 minutes in a pressure cooker! One brand promises, ‘Une garantie de délai entre la récolte et la surgélation de moins de 150 minutes’ = ‘A delay between harvesting and freezing of less than 150 minutes.’ A promise that has always been the case with Bird’s Eye peas! A mother’s comment on a French frozen foods firm’s website said, Très bons petits pois, pas farineux et très doux. Même mes enfants en mangent avec plaisir. – ‘Very good peas,very tender, not floury, and even my children eat them with pleasure!’ It sounds as if her previous experience of peas was very different! If you don’t believe me, then perhaps you will believe a French Chef, namely Raymond Blanc, who recommends Bird’s Eye peas in his book ‘Simple French Cookery’ for the recipe ‘Petits pois à la française’. “I must say that Bird’s Eye were the best we used for this recipe because they are harvested very young and frozen within 24 hours, so retain optimum flavour and freshness”!

 

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