Being a qualified chef, I love food. I love eating food and I love cooking it. Food is like an experience. The taste, the smells…everything about cooking. What more can you love about food than your local traditional foods and tastes. One of my favourite foods is a local dish that is a simple dish.
A little insight…I’m from an area in England known as The Black Country and the name dates back to the 1800s. The area was a very industrial area with a lot of factories and mining. There are a lot of theories about where the name came from but one widely known theory is that as a young Queen Victoria rode through the area in her carriage she closed the curtains and said this was the “blackest country” she had ever seen due to the soot and smoke lingering in the air from the mines and factories.
In the 1800s, food needed to be simple, cheap and filling. Some traditional Black Country foods include pork scratchings, faggots and peas and bread pudding; but the one I’m going to write today is grey peas and bacon. We have our own dialect here in the Black Country, so grey peas in our dialect is gray pays.
Grey peas…a pea with many other names. Maple peas, Carlin peas, pigeon peas and I’m sure there are more. I know that they are widely available here, with most butchers and local stores selling bags of them. If you want to try this recipe, you’ll have to see if grey peas or any other name are available in your area. I will say though, this dish may not look the best but its filling and very tasty.
Grey Peas and Bacon
1 lb of grey peas
1 tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda
1 lb of bacon, chopped into small pieces (Traditionally unsmoked but smoked is also tasty)
Soak the peas in water and bicarbonate of soda overnight.
Strain the peas and replace the water.
Bring peas to the boil and then simmer until the peas are tender. Cooking all day usually works too.
Chop the bacon into pieces and fry.
Add the fried bacon and the juices to the pan of peas and let simmer for another 30 minutes to an hour, until the flavours have combined.
If it hasn’t thickened properly, you can add small amounts of bicarbonate of soda to thicken it up more.
I love eating this dish. It’s really tasty and very traditional for the area where we live.
What do you think about grey peas and bacon? Have you had it or do you want to try it? If you do try, I’d love to hear what you thought. Maybe send in a picture and what you thought, I could make a feature on Nikkipedia of your experiences from using the traditional Black Country recipe.