Last autumn Christine Smallwood, good friend of Hodmedod and a writer with a passion for Italian food, sent me a small packet of Cicerchia (Lathyrus sativus also called 'grass pea') to try cooking with.
Cicerchia is widely eaten in Southern Italy and North Africa and, because of it's hardiness and determination to grow even in the most unforgiving years, has a reputation as a useful famine food for man and beast alike.
I cooked most of the packet, but I couldn't resist the temptation to grow a few plants in my garden; yesterday the first of its beautiful blue-pink flowers opened.
The weather is unlikely to be good enough for me to harvest any peas this autumn and I think there's little prospect of them being commercially grown in the UK - but who knows!
If you fancy finding out more about this amazing legume you might want to dip into this little pamphlet produced by Biodiversity International - fascinating stuff.
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Pioneering farmers Peter and Andrew Fairs, of Great Tey in Essex, have successfully grown the first ever crop of British chia. These tiny oil-rich seeds represent another step in Hodmedod's mission to increase the diversity of both British farming and British diets.
We're getting very excited about Bristol Food Connections, an amazing festival of more than 100 events across the city & through the week of 11th to 17th June. We're involved in a few things...
Jenny Linford's book The Missing Ingredient: The Curious Role of Time in Food and Flavour explores the critical part that time plays in food production and cooking. In this extract from the Hours chapter Jenny talks to Hodmedod co-founder Nick Saltmarsh and considers the history of the British relationship with pulses.