Yes, yes — we know. You shouldn't (and don't) have to choose between shelling peas and snap peas. They are both gloriously available this time of year, as peas burst into season all over the country. Our own vines are laden and we can hardly wait for them to ripen. But if you had to choose between the peas you pop out of the shells, and the peas you eat pod and all, which would you pick?Personally, I have a romantic love for straight-up English shelled peas. They are really only good at this time of year. The rest of the year, peas from freezer bags are worthwhile but still something entirely different. Snow peas and snap peas are not quite in season the rest of the year, but they are still widely available, and they just don't have the magic of those fat pods, bulging with sweet, juicy peas.
So when I planted my garden this spring I just planted English (shell) peas. I am waiting for them to ripen right now, and the pods are hanging heavy on the vines, developing those delicious little nubs of peas inside.
It probably doesn't hurt that my favorite M.F.K. Fisher piece is all about peas. Have you read it?