Black-eyed peas, or black-eyed beans as they are also called, are the seeds of a plant of the pea family, which are creamy-white in colour with a black mark on one edge. As their Latin name, Vigna sinensis, suggests, they originated in China, and are still widely used there for food, but they are now particularly associated with the southern states of the USA. They were probably first planted there in the late eighteenth century (George Washington in his diaries mentions the ‘small black eyed pea’, which is presumably the same vegetable), and were much used as a forage plant (hence their alternative name cowpea, from their being fed to cattle) and as green manure. It is for their role in the soul food of the Deep South that they are best known now, though, and especially for their partnership with salt pork and tabasco.
Subjects: Cookery, Food, and Drink.