Thursday, June 23, 2011

Purple Hull Peas ???

Purple's my favorite color but I've never associated it with peas. Have you ?

So, just what is a Purple Hull Pea ?
If you grew up in Emerson, Arkansas, I'm sure you'd know. This Friday and Saturday, they're holding the 20th Annual Purple Hull Pea Festival. I think it's the world's largest and oldest (and probably ONLY) Purple Hull Pea Festival !

Purple Hull Peas are very similar to black-eyed peas but have more flavor. Just like black-eyed peas and crowder peas, they are part of the "cow pea" or "Southern pea" families. It is believed they originated in Africa and migrated to the Southern states along with the slaves. Eaten by the very poor and used as forage crops for livestock, they were slow to come into use by the general population, and are still considered a "Southern thang" or "soul food." They're most commonly eaten with cornbread. In fact, one of the featured events of the festival is the Great Purple Hull Peas & Cornbread Cook Off."

There's also a new 20th Annual Purple Hull Pea Festival Cookbook available, titled "20 Pea Pickin' Years." If you can't get to the festival in person, you can order the cookbook by mail here. (It's also available at local businesses in Emerson.)

Another festival event is a Pea Shelling Competition. If you don't mind purple fingers and aching thumbnails, c'mon down and give it a shot. They'll provide the peas, all you have to do is show up. There will even be play-by-play coverage in true ESPN-style. The audience is filled with those cheering on their favorites. You gotta see it to believe it!!
One of the other major sports attractions at the festival is the Fastest Garden Tiller Competition. (This is not your standard tractor race, My Friends!)

So, why not bring your sweet little pea-pickin' heart down to Emerson, Arkansas this weekend and get into the purple ?!?!

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