See also: Beans, Dried
Black-eyed peas are actually a variety of bean, despite their name.
Black-eyed peas were brought to the West Indies from West Africa by slaves, by earliest records in 1674. Originally used as food for livestock, they became a staple of the slaves’ diet - and so during the Civil War, black-eyed peas (field peas) were ignored by Sherman’s troops. Left behind in the fields (along with corn), they became important food for the Confederate South.
In the American South, eating black-eyed peas and greens (such as collards) on New Year’s Day is considered good luck: the peas symbolize coins and the greens symbolize paper money. They are a key ingredient in Hoppin’ John (peas, rice and pork) and part of African-American “soul food.”
Library of Congress www.loc.gov
Cowpea is another name for black-eyed-peas. Other names are China bean and black eyed bean. They are native to Asia and Africa, but have been cultivated since ancient times in China. They are grown throughout the southern U.S. as a hay crop and for human consumption.
Black-eyed Beans have a scented aroma, creamy texture and distinctive flavor. These beans are characterized by their kidney shaped, white skin with a small black eye and very fine wrinkles. Originally from Africa, it is one of the most widely dispersed beans in the world. Black-eyed peas are really a type of pea, which gives it its distinctive flavor and rapid cooking potential, with no pre-soaking needed.
CDC.gov - 5 a Day