When we return to Alaska from Greece, we carry home enough food to last until we next visit the island. We stuff our bags to the very edge of the airlines’ weight limit. As a result, our Alaska meals are enhanced by hand-gathered, hand-crafted, and hand-grown island products that remind us of far-away friends and family.
After years of doing this, I’m attuned to every detail of the customs’ laws and regulations. I’m careful to pack only those items that are legal to bring into the United States. We declare absolutely everything, and have never yet had a customs problem.
Each year, one of the items in our luggage is dried black-eyed peas grown by my husband’s cousin Zafiris on a Northern Aegean island. After the peas have dried on the vine, Zafiris places them on a threshing floor, and shells them by driving his tractor back and forth over the peas. He then winnows out the peas from their shells and other debris, and brings them home for his wife to finish cleaning and drying (the final drying is done in the oven).
One of my favorite ways to eat black-eyed peas is paired with wild greens, if they’re available, and supermarket greens when they’re not. Most recently, I made this with a bag of mixed kales that came in my Full Circle Farm CSA box.
In Greece, we eat black-eyed peas as a salad seasoned with fresh leaf fennel. In Alaska, I prefer it as a zesty cold-fighting soup. Either way, the dish tastes great.