A coveted gift at this time of year is the bag full of fresh peas from the neighbor who is, among other things, a seasoned pea farmer. Since we are currently eating our fill of peas at the local sagra and restaurants, we decided to shell these and save them for darker times when a taste of spring will be much welcomed at our table. He shared that he is up to his ears in peas and is personally sick of them.
These are no ordinary peas. This variety was introduced to the surrounding hills in the year 1000 by Benedictine monks and are considered a valued delicacy. Don't expect to find them in your local supermarket; the good farmers in the paese cultivate only enough for our local pea festival and for distribution to area restaurants, where city dwellers flock for a taste of the bisi. You can read more about our famous peas here or here (in Italian).
The pea festival, Sagra dei Bisi, continues in the paese this weekend. Those thousands of peas served at the festival are shelled entirely by hand. Entirely. That fact alone should get you out here this weekend. That...and my brownies and my chocolate chip cookie pie that will be found at the sweet table. A tip: order the risi e bisi. You won't be disappointed.
Bisi is the local dialect word for piselli which is the Italian word for peas.