You might wonder if black-eyed peas are really peas. They aren’t, even though they are called a pea. Black-eyed peas, sometimes referred to as a cowpea, is actually a bean. The edible black-eyed pea is an oval, creamy white bean with a black “eye”. Its texture is soft texture and the flavor described as nutty, earthy and buttery. Some consider them an acquired taste. Whether you like their taste or not, they are an excellent source of calcium, fiber, folate as well as iron, potassium, Vitamin A, and other nutrients, low in fat and sodium, and contain no cholesterol.
The black-eyed pea, also known as black-eyed cowpea or cowpea, grows in many countries in Asia; and was introduced into the Southern United States, specifically Virginia, as early as the 17th century and was a predominant cultivated bean following the American Revolution. George Washington Carver promoted planting this crop because it added nitrogen to the soil, not to mention its high nutritional value.
This bean is available as a fresh or dried bean and used in soups, side dishes, and casseroles. It is a widely used ingredient in Soul food cuisine In the Southern United States. In fact, the popular dish known as “Hoppin’ John” uses the black-eyed pea as the main ingredient cooked with rice, pork (such as chopped pork or ham, hog jowls or hambones, fatback or bacon) and seasonings.
The tradition of this little bean is crosses both cultural and religious groups. Often served in the Southern United States on New Year’s Day, it represents good luck for the New Year and is often prepared with rice and collard, turnip, or mustard greens, and ham. Because these beans/peas swell during cooking they are symbolic of prosperity. Black-eyed Peas are also one of nine dishes served during the celebration of Rosh Hashanah for the Jewish New Year, but you can enjoy them any time of the year.
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