A second area of development lies in the Near East, and a third includes the plateau and mountains of Ethiopia.
Wild field peas of related species can still be found in Afghanistan, Iran, and Ethiopia. Cultivation brought stability to once-nomadic tribes, and made it possible for peas to be brought by travellers and explorers into the countries of the Mediterranean as well as to the Far East.
Gregor Mendel, an Austrian monk, conducted experiments on how pea plants reproduced, and created the science of genetics.
Educated at the University of Vienna, his experiments in the1860s led to standard laws of genetic inheritance.
The advent of frozen vegetables in the 1920s and 1930s provided a new advantage for peas.
They could be harvested and frozen almost immediately, preventing their sugars from turning to starch.
They were inexpensive and plentiful, and made a wholesome meal that the poor could afford.
"Some ladies, even after having supped at the Royal Table, and well supped too, returning to their own homes, at the risk of suffering from indigestion, will again eat peas before going to bed.
It is both a fashion and a madness."During the mid 1700s, major changes took place in England's agricultural laws, and large plots of farmland were allotted to private estates.
Before the end of the 16th century, botanists in Belgium, Germany, and England described many kinds of peas: tall and dwarf; with white, yellow and green seed colors; smooth, pitted and wrinkled seeds..
These little peas were so different from the dried peas of peasant fare that, among the elite, they created a new vogue in French cuisine.
Toward the end of the 17th century they were still such a rare delicacy that fantastic prices were sometimes paid for them in France.