Preston Parched Peas, Lancashire
One of the North of England delicacies that has never transferred to the South, and frankly is never likely to, parched peas like tripe or black pudding take a bit of courage to try, but just like those excellent foodstuffs are well worth it.
Known elsewhere in the North as carlings, carlins, pigeon peas, maple peas and black peas, the recipe is simple. Take the dried peas (not any old peas by the way, they are a special variety) and soak them overnight or ideally for a full 24 hours. Pick them over carefully in case any bits of stone or other debris can be found, then stew them slowly for a good hour – judge by the softness, though they should still have some bite to them rather than forming a mush. Drench the cooked peas, which create their own liquor, in malt vinegar and season with plenty of salt.
The flavour is not what you expect at all, nothing like mushy peas for example – they are earthier than that, not far off baked potato.
In Preston in particular the peas are a local specialty, sometimes sold ready cooked and served in brown paper bags still on the Flag Market , an autumn delicacy also associated with visiting fairs. You can find them too on Bury Market (where a decent meal of black pudding with mustard from one stall and steamed potatoes and parched peas from another seller can be enjoyed).