I’ve always been fascinated with British cuisine, as you may have guessed from the title of my blog.
It started as a child. I loved English fiction, especially the Secret Garden, Oliver Twist, and anything by Roald Dahl. I loved these books so much that at 8 my life goal was to be an impoverished, English orphan. Unfortunately for me, I was a middle-class, american child with two living parents. My mother was quite disturbed when I told her I wanted to be an orphan.
But other than concerning my mother, English literature left me with a fascination of the dishes described in these books. I had no idea what trifles, crumpets, or custards were, but they sounded amazing. And throughout my life, I have continued to be intrigued with British cuisine despite its stereotypical bad reputation.
In an attempt to separate fact from fiction of English cuisine, I decided to taste test popular British dish, mushy peas (mashed peas, often canned).
According the BBC’s recipe website mushy peas are a quintessential British dish, often served with pies and roasts. They are made of marrowfat peas, which is a large pea that is harvested after it has dried out on the vine. The dried peas are then ground up, rehydrated, seasoned, colored green (otherwise they would be a grayish color) and canned. You can also enjoy marrowfat peas as the main ingredient in the Asian snack wasabi peas.
In order to have the quintessential British experience, I purchased a can of Bachelor’s brand peas called “Mushy Original”. I don’t know if “original” means the flavor and there are other flavors like cool ranch OR if “Mushy” is the original brand of mushy pea’s and everything else is a substitute. Like Dr. Thunder, as oppose to the original Dr. Pepper.
I read instructions on the can and immediately ran into an issue. The instructions said to cook the peas on a “hob”. A quick dictionary check revealed that a hob is “a projection or shelf at the back or side of a fireplace, used for keeping food warm”… I definitely don’t have one of those. Do all British homes have this?!? Eventually, I found a British-English to American-English translator and discovered a hob can also be a stove top, which I do have.
I poured the contents of the can into a small pan and slowly warmed it on my ‘hob’ as instructed. I didn’t have a roast or pie to eat the peas with, but I figured I could at least get an idea.
My first spoonful tasted exactly as you would have imagine warm, mushy peas from a can to taste like. I didn’t hate them, and I could almost see if you had grown-up with mushy peas how they could be a comfort food, being warm and mushy like mashed potatoes, but they were a bit hard to enjoy. I think this was because they were warm, season-less peas out a can and really how could that be a good thing.
I’m going to give them a 4 out of 10, mostly because they were really easy to make.
I think I’ll taste test a dessert (pudding) next. Maybe a trifle.
I purchased my mushy peas at the local grocery story in the international section, but you can also find them on amazon.
If you need more mushy goodness, check out this 1994 advert for Batchelor’s Mushy.