Glazed Carrots with Peas (1911) ★★

(Can you tell I'm trying to use up the mint I bought?! As the Japanese say, mottainai!)

It always interests me when a recipe calls for an ingredient that must have been well known at the time, but is no longer common today. In this case, I wondered what a can of "French peas" was exactly. Was the recipe calling for the infamous mushy peas? Or were they simply whole, canned peas? Was it a canned recipe for French-style peas? A post on Restaurant-ing Through History enlightened me: apparently in the mid- to late- 19th century, peas imported from France were all the rage. They were so popular among the upper classes that "French peas" on a menu was a distinguisher of class, privilege, and delicacy. Mrs. Beeton wrote in her 1861 The Book of Household Management, "in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Fuller tells us they were brought from Holland, and were accounted "fit dainties for ladies, they came so far and cost so dear." An 1896 cookbook from Boston remarks that peas "appear in market as early as April, coming from Florida and California, and although high in price are hardly worth buying, they having been picked so long." So while the following recipe might seem like a simple side dish of veggies, the social history behind it is quite a bit more detailed.

I actually had never heard of peas with mint before I had my daughter - at which point peas and mint baby food appeared. However, the combination of mint and peas was nothing new to Mrs. Beeton, who wrote that mint "is valuable as a stomachic and antispasmodic; on which account it is generally served at table with pea-soup". An earlier 1840 cookbook gives directions for cooking peas with mint and states that this is a very English method. 

Original Recipe:

The Verdict: 
Unfortunately I have to say that I rinsed these peas off in an attempt to salvage them for dinner, but even then couldn't bring myself to eat them. Amazingly, Little Y just gobbled them up (after rinsing), so...I guess this recipe wasn't a total flop? But 1/2 a cup of butter is just SO MUCH BUTTER. I even used the carrot butter for the peas and there was a ridiculous amount left. Also, there is a lot of sugar there for just 3 carrots. I wasn't a huge fan of the mint with the carrots, but the peas were alright. I would eat this if I had to, but I would never make it again. If you like sweet carrots (I don't) and mint on your veggies, you would probably enjoy this, but perhaps with a bit less sugar and like, 1/4 cup max of butter. Points for prettiness though!

Modernized Recipe:
(Adapted from Good Things to Eat)

3 medium CARROTS
1/2 cup BUTTER
1/3 cup SUGAR
1 tablespoon FRESH MINT, chopped
1 can SMALL PEAS (or use desired amount of fresh or frozen)
BUTTER, for seasoning
SALT, to taste
PEPPER, to taste

1. Wash and peel the carrots. Cut them into cubes or use a small cookie cutter to make "fancy shapes".
2. In a saucepan, melt the butter with the sugar and mint. Add the carrots and cook on low heat until glazed and tender.
3. If using canned peas, drain and rinse them. Boil water in a saucepan and cook the peas for five minutes. When done, drain and season with butter, salt, and pepper.
4. Mound the peas on a serving dish and surround them with carrots. Serve hot.

Anje graduated with a Honours Bachelors degree in History with a minor in Museum Studies. She currently lives and works in Japan's least populous prefecture as an assistant English teacher.