Green peas were meant to be pulses until the day when nobility, say, Maria de Medici, wanted them to be sweet. Eventually the general population wanted the tender peas, and they began growing them in their own gardens. Today peas with ham are a paradigm of contrasted food: sweet and salty, red and green; and represent the subtle finesse required in the kitchen.
Though they don’t have official certification, two types of Spanish peas are in competition for being the best: lagrima, on the Basque coast, and floreta, on the Maresme coast, in Barcelona. Both are considered to be a sort of vegetable caviar. Even the external pods are exquisite; tender, bright green with a grassy flavour. There is one variety, cultivated only for its pods that are not shelled prior to consumption: snow peas (tirabeques). With its edible shell, these peas have a flavour reminiscent of chlorophyll and licorice.
País Vasco and Barcelona