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Little Pea History
(pisum sativum) gets its English name indirectly
from the Latin pisum. In Anglo Saxon the
word became pise or pisu; later,
in English it was "pease." Many people
thought "pease" was plural that they dropped
the "s" sound, thus making the word "pea."
Many different species have long been called "pea,"
so that this word alone is not definite. In much
of our own South today "peas" usually means
some edible variety of cowpeas. In referring to
what most of the United States understands as
"peas" (pisum sativum), the southerner
says "English peas".
of primitive peas have been found in lake mud
beneath the positions of houses of the Swiss lake
dwellers, dating back perhaps 5,000 years to the
Bronze Age. Peas also were found buried in a cave
in Hungary, believed by some to date back even
further. Despite recurrent claims, this species
of pea has not been found among any of the ancient
Egyptian treasures, but it has been found in diggings
on the site of ancient Troy. The Aryans from the
East are supposed to have introduced peas to the
Greeks and Romans, who grew them before the Christian
Era. Garden peas were not common until the Eighteenth
century. Toward the end of the Seventeenth century
they were still a rare delicacy in France. The
English developed fine varieties; hence the common
"English peas" in America .