Ode to Pigeon Peas

I walked out in the garden this morning,
  Sun warming my head, my arms,
And the green pigeon peas. 
A breath of legume, sun teased scent
   Brought them to my attention.
Picked a handful, then two.
Dropped into boiling salted water
   For 10 minutes or so, cooled in a colander,
   Shelled -  lifted from their
 Plump nurturing pods, some
   Kissed a bit brown by that sun.
Suitable now for our salad,
Or pigeon peas 'n pasta
With basil and tomato.
                                     .... C. Riley

Well, that was my inspiration (inspired to poetry as well as food) from our latest Cook the Books Club pick, Sustenance & Desire, an anthology of poems, essays and various excerpts, loosely associated with food, edited with paintings by Bascove.  I would give the book mixed reviews.  Overall a bit uneven in quality and interest.  Some of the poems mystifying, some mediocre and several excellent, of course all in my humble opinion.  Among the essay selections, I enjoyed a few, some were okay and a number of others could be done without entirely; for instance the piece on cannibalism.  Did you know that:
"The Aztec cared intensely how they ate people and also who they ate, when, and where."
Not particularly appetizing.  That said however, her art alone was worth the book purchase.  I tried to find any Bascove paintings on ebay, but none were available.  Must all be in private collections or museums.

I made a lovely salad incorporating those peas, also known locally as gandule beans or toor dal if you're from India.  Used arugula, romaine, moringa leaves (for extra protein), some toasted pine nuts, cherry tomatoes and cabbage... oil and vinegar dressing.  I want to do a post soon on moringa.  Such a worthwhile tropical perennial to have, as are pigeon peas, of course.


Rachel said...

Claudia, I scoured the book twice to see which author had penned that pigeon pea poem, and couldn't find it. Then it dawned on me that you wrote it! Just beautiful.

I am also interested to see what moringa posts you come up with later on.

Claudia said...

Thanks Rachel. Guess I could have been clearer about that. An interesting pick over-all.

Delaware Girl Eats said...

HI Claudia - so exciting your wrote your own poem. I actually liked most of the book, as I seldom read poetry and it was fun to explore. Here's to pigeon peas.

A Day in the Life on the Farm said...

I am very impressed with your poem and very jealous of your being able to go out and get peas from your garden...It is snowy and cold here in Michigan.

Deb in Hawaii said...

I don't know what I like most about your post/entry... your beautiful and creative poem, the fact that you have fresh pigeon peas and moringa in your garden, or that lovely pea salad?!? It's all just perfect!

Debra Eliotseats said...

I liked the mix in this anthology but the next edition needs to include your poem!!!!

Simona Carini said...

I am lucky in that I know that beautiful garden of yours and it adds an extra layer to my reading of your poem: lovely. I admit I also could not finish the piece on cannibalism. On the other hand, I read other pieces more than once.
P.S. I'd love to have a pasta-making session in your kitchen. We'll talk more about it once we finalize our travel plans :)

Claudia said...

Thanks Delaware Girl, and Wendy - you could always come to Hawaii.

And Deb, Debra thanks too - I'd been neglecting poetry, so it was good to be inspired in that direction. Right now I'm reading a very inspirational collection, short stories, many of which are extremely short and poetic, by Lydia Davis. Encouragement to post more things on my blog.

Laurie C said...

How lovely to live in Hawaii! I hadn't heard of this book before, but it sounds intriguing.

Amy said...

Those look wonderful and I just love your poem - what a fun inspiration from the story!

Beth F said...

Love your poem and that you were inspired by the garden and a book. I can't even see the ground because of the snow, but soon, we'll have flowers again.

Camilla M. Mann said...

Beautiful. Poem and peas...I don't think I've ever had pigeon peas before. I'll keep an eye out.

(Diane) bookchickdi said...

Your poem is beautiful. We just visited Barbados, and had rice made with pigeon peas.