All the way through early summer, peas and favas are at the market. Now some will look at those piles of pods, shake their heads and think “too much work,” and I’m the first to agree that frozen peas can be a saving grace on a busy weeknight. But there’s another way, too, to view the labor-intensive process of prepping spring produce–as a treat in and of itself to be relished rather than rushed. It’s a mindful eating practice in the form of sharing the prep work.
Maybe it’s the communal bowl set out to catch the fruits of your labor. Maybe it’s the tactile act of nudging peas out of their pods, popping favas out of their skins, whittling baby artichokes into edible wonders. Whatever it is, something clicks to allow conversation to unfurl at its own speed, to let strands of thought unspool silently in our minds without feeling the need to speak out loud.
Most people, I’ve found, have sepia-tinted memories of sitting on a sunny stoop with someone–a child, a grandparent–with a bowl between them. Just yesterday, my mom and I were shelling favas for our Easter meal when she shared a memory of shelling peas with her mother–a moment I’m sure I’ll recount to my own daughter a month, a year, a decade from now. It’s a timeless act that, amidst this busy world, people tend to tuck away and cherish deep in their hearts.
And I haven’t even mentioned the joy these little gems bring to the plate.
So for one meal this week have a few friends over, wrangle the kids together, invite your spouse to sit for a spell and prep some seasonal produce . . . all the better if you have a sunny day and a stoop.