VII: Tuberous Pea

An amazing plant that really needs better PR.

VII: Tuberous Pea
The brilliant blooms of a weird pea. Photo by pass-° °-Imagination / Unsplash

Good morning. Today is septidi, the 27th of Brumaire, Year CCXXXI. We celebrate le macjonc, a flower with a vegetable with a tuber – the trifecta!

Maybe because they're so pretty and they grow so many tasty things (more on that in moment), slugs absolutely love devouring tuberous peas (a.k.a. aardakers, a.k.a. earthnut peas, a.k.a. tuberous sweetpeas). There are a lot of ways to kill slugs, but one way to defeat them without bloodshed (slugshed?) is a simple line of copper tape. They hate it! The only problem is that the amount of water tuberous peas need will corrode the copper tape quickly, so we have a new version of rock-paper-scissors: slug beats tuberous pea, copper tape beats slug, tuberous pea beats copper tape. I'm working on the hand symbols.

This pea needs a new name. I think that's all that's holding it back, because it's a little plant that can grow brilliant pink flowers and perfectly good peas in a pod and a tuberous root that, when boiled, tasted like a roasted chestnut. In fact, the reason it got a day on the calendar is probably because it was all the rage in France and northwestern Europe at the time, supposedly beloved for having a "gentle nutty flavor."

It had been viewed as an inferior source of peas until the Dutch figured out how to cultivate it at scale, and that in its second year of growth, the tubers were quite tasty and nutritious. (Sound familiar?) For a minute, its ascent to culinary staple seemed inevitable. Then, from Great Britain and Ireland, a mighty tuber came along that would forever condemn tuberous peas to the dustbin of vegetation, considered nothing more than a pesky weed that tangles the tines of even the hardiest weed eater. Yes, tuberous peas were killed by the potato.