08/19/2011 06:04 pm ET

English vs. Sugar Snap Peas

The Splendid Table's® How to Eat Supper, By Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Dear Lynne,

What is the difference between English peas and Sugar Snap peas. And which would be the best for a dip?

Penny in Miami

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Dear Penny,

They are different varieties. Before classy labeling, English peas were simply "garden peas." They're delicious, but it's hard to buy really sweet ones because soon after picking their sugars start converting to starch, and the pod becomes too tough to eat (but it is good simmered into sweet pea broth).

Sugar snaps should be your choice. They are sturdier, bred to stay sweet for a week or more if you keep them chilled. And you eat the entire pea, pod and all.

One caveat: Please don't buy any pea without tasting it first, no matter the askance glances from the produce manager!

Copyright 2011 Lynne Rossetto Kasper