The History of Sugar Snap Peas
Sugar snap peas (also known as 'snow peas') have been growing on this earth for a formidable amount of time. They are considered one of the oldest crops and have provided humans with nutrition and sustenance since before civilisation as we know it.
There is a lot of debate to where sugar snap peas originated. The wider opinion is that they were originally from Central Asia or the Middle East. Scientists have found carbon dated sugar snap peas in a cave between Thailand and Burma that were dated around 9750 BC. The true extent to how far these peas have travelled can be seen when the excavation of a Swiss Bronze Age site uncovered some peas dating back to 3,000 BC.
A dark side?
Sugar snap peas seem to have been a stable part of most civilisations' diets. In Europe, these peas were brought in by travelling Nomads and traders, who were heavily integrated in Greek and Roman society. In ancient Greece it is said that 'hot pea soup' was sold in the street as a take away food. While in ancient Rome peas were extensively used in the first Roman cook book. There was, however, a period of time during the Roman era when these peas became poisonous and therefore had to be dried before they were consumed.
Once dried out, these peas provided long-term storage. During the Middle Ages peas were treasured amongst peasants who required food, and their traditional porridge kept for a long time.
Peas made a triumphant return in France during the reign of Louis the XIV, through a gardener who started to cultivate these once forgotten peas. He soon created a hybrid that was named 'petit pois'.
When early Europeans migrated to America the pea was widely grown in the south of the country. The act of this almost sealed the acknowledgement that peas had travelled from the furthest reaches of the globe and have a place in almost every civilisation.
Today there are over 1000 varieties of pea and they are grown in all areas of the globe, ranging from Europe to India, China to Russia.