Are Peas a vegetable? I think   they are in the bean or legume family, so perhaps this blog has gotten off to an   erroneous start. Let me ask my pal Google.

“Pea  /pē/ Noun

  •     A     spherical green seed that is eaten as a vegetable.
  •     Any     of a number of edible spherical seeds of the pea family, e.g., chickpea and     black-eyed pea.

Ok, so there is     the answer and let me get to the meat of this story.

I am in love with  Peas.

Once a long time ago  in Paris, my friend Alain Ducasse chose a famous restaurant for me and my friend  Jami to dine at near the Champs Elysees. I think it was  La Fermette Marbeuf.

On the menu that  night was a Terrine de Soup de petit pois de printemps, avec un morceau de  fois gras au fond”. Let me translate:   A spring pea soup with a knob of fois gras (goose or duck liver) at  the bottom.

This Terrine, a  large serving bowl was in fact quite gigantic, and at the time, I was quite petite but my robust appetite did and does not match my frame, not even today at almost 50.

The sublime Soup – I sipped,  devoured, drained (most daintily) every last sweet, silken drop. I had to     remind myself that I couldn’t lick the bowl. Instead I calmly and with the utmost seriousness asked the maître’D to please, yes please, serve me another. He looked quite stunned but nodded. Remember, the client is always right.

I recall that said Maitre ‘D looked equally stunned when I polished, in it’s inteirty the second terrine with     paralleled glee, discrete glee of course, I’m not one of those Ugly Americans, but my unbridled euphoria was undeniable. The restaurant staff  was astonished and I guess, the chef was smiling. I know it got back to Ducasse and he would have been beaming too.

I could go on about the Peach creation I had for dessert which merits many paragraphs but this story is     about my love of the Pea.

That was in the 80’s. Let’s fast forward.

2013 Mar’Sel Terranea, Palos Verdes, my husband’s birthday dinner:

I won’t go on  about the other dishes that were very delectable. I feel I must note however that the waitress  or is it more correct to say, ‘server’ drove me to distraction with her over hyped up energy, I think she had too many Red Bulls prior to service. Food and dish description deserves paced patience and grace.

I want to talk about the ecstasy of one dish in particular. The PEA dish. Finally I can get to the point of this blog post.

The Pea dish was a compilation of Gioia Burrata cheese from El Monte CA (who would have thought) with fresh English peas with their tendrils; a caress of SABA reduced balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, olive oil. It was garnished with a grilled herb ciabatta.

Perfection. It was Perfection. I have never tasted such Pea-ness, pea rich flavor, not since that famous dinner in Paris. But those French spring peas were cooked, these were not, thus an earthy freshness, almost tasting of the soil (in a good way). The savor was so deep, intensely pea like. Why don’t more salads contain Pea tendrils?  I’ve come to believe that the tendril is the source of the molecular beginnings of the Pea essence.

This simple dish was in its simplicity, anything but simple. It was complex, deep, primal in its connection to the earth.

Let’s Talk Gjelina’s PeasI had my second Pea experience the very next day at Gjelina’s in Venice. This Pea dish for lunch was a big surprise. I didn’t know my good Pea fortune would extend to two days in concurrence. Yay for me!

This variety of Pea presentation was chopped or diced fresh spring peas (the menu said smashed but they were not smashed and that is an insult to the end result) on a bed of burrata on toast of unknown variety. This piece of Pea heaven was also gush worthy. I made all sorts of cooing noises but the restaurant is so loud, no one heard me, but my husband could and my smile said it all. Yes, I was smiling with my mouth full, full of Peas. I was a happy gourmande.

Pea Heaven

To wrap this up before my readership becomes bored with my Pea reverie; I’d like to say that there is an interesting twist to all this Pea/spring/freshness.  My mom passed away on the Friday before all of this Pea indulgence. I think the renewal of the spring has some symbolism with this next spring of my life without my mother. I will share a parting visual memory to bring the pea stories into a full perfect pea shaped circle that just this second came into my mind’s recesses.

Year 2000. My mom shucking Peas on my porch in Saudi Arabia; a giant bag of fresh from the earth peas in their pods. It took her a long time to snap the little green orbs from their pods. I guess I too have now been released from the protective pod of my mother’s earthly presence.

This one’s for you mom. I love and miss you.

MOMLea Leeman

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