The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.


An Appreciation of the Approval Matrix, Paula Deen & “English Peas”

Sweet Peas in a can.

Each week we look forward to the guilty pleasure of checking out New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix, a “deliberately oversimplified guide to who falls where on our taste hierarchies.” People, events, books, art, music, performance and random factoids are decked out on a grid ranging from Highbrow to Lowbrow and from Brilliant to Despicable. Our favorite quadrant tends to be the Lowbrow and Brilliant, where we recently saw a nod to “Sarcastic user reviews of Paula Deen’s ‘English Peas’ recipe on the Food Network website”. English peas? Paula Deen? Brilliant and Lowbrow? We had to see what this was all about. First, the recipe:

English Peas. Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen.
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Level: Easy
Yield: 6-8 servings



¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 cans (14 ½ ounces) English peas, drained



Melt the butter in small pot and add the peas. Cook over medium heat until peas are warm.


According to the Food Network, Deen cooked this delight with and for former President Carter at his home in 2007. Poor Jimmy Carter: First stagflation and malaise, then the ayatollah, the attack rabbit and the can opener.

The Food Network website, foolishly it appears, offers a “User Reviews” feedback option where people can post questions or comments, rate the recipes and add variations. Here are some of the entries following “English Peas”. Only a handful of comments appeared when the program featuring peas, “Hail to the Chief”, appeared, but then, four years later, something happened, and The Approval Matrix noticed.

The Approval Matrix

By Smontg01 2/9/2011

“A variation of this recipe that Ms Deen neglects to mention is French peas: add a few leaves of lettuce while cooking. I would only do that if I was having company, though.”

By ponytay! 2/8/2011

“I substituted Velveeta for the butter and jalapenos for the peas and poured it over tortilla chips. I call it English Nachos.”

By dyates_10047437 2/8/2011

“This is very similar to my Can of Corn recipe, perhaps I could have my own show on Food Network?”

By pattipoopidoo 2/7/2011

“For our neighborhood block party, I put the peas on bamboo skewers and grilled them outside, then served the melted butter in individual ramekins as a dipping sauce. What a treat. My neighbors are still talking about it!”

By bitey 1/29/11

“As a veteran of the U.S. Armed Services, I found I could not enjoy “English Peas”. It felt unpatriotic. I wish you would post a recipe for “American Peas” instead. My neighbor tells me that I can modify this recipe by adding the other ½ stick of butter and get “American Peas” that way, but she lets her Rottweiler poop in my yard I KNOW IT’S YOU, EVELYN and then denies it, so I can’t really trust her. A little feedback here?”

By smugglingraisins 1/29/2011

“I’ve never been a fan of peas until I tried this recipe. It changed everything for me. GENIUS I TELL YOU. I’ve told all of my friends and family about this recipe, and they all were amazed at the ingenuity. Only Paula Deen could deliver such a gem.”

By tracytracy_123 2/6/2011

“Some salt and pepper would have definitely helped, and I really like the suggestion of adding whiskey for an Irish Peas version; will have to try that next time!”

By geniuswaitress 1/31/2011

“I’ve always flirted with the idea of making canned peas, but assumed it would be too complicated. Thanks for de-mystifying it. I can cross it off my bucket list.”

By PeaFan 1/30/2011

“I absolutely loved this! My only suggestion would be to puree the mixture so that it doesn’t clog your feeding tube. I really appreciate these recipes that are geared to those of us who no longer have the use of our taste buds.”

By Dashboy 1/11/2011

“Wow. This is going to be great. I couldn’t understand the part about peas, drained, so I had to call the help number on the can. I asked the guy (I think his name was Prakash) what is “peas, drained”? He said that it is baby food. So I went to the market and got some jars of Gerber. Anyway, I need to impress this girl in my class and I am going to make this tonight. Her name is Gina Statutori. Thank you Paula!!!! I am so going to score.”

By Yesdog 1/11/2011

“I am concerned about the high levels of English Peas in my family’s diet, so I left them out of the recipe. Still, what a deliciously unctuous dish!”

By mkmydarling 1/8/2010

I don’t have english peas, so I used yankee beans instead. They took my half stick of butter and chucked it right out of my small pot! Made a horrible mess…the beans said they were protesting my tea tax, which I do not even recall levying against them.”

There are over 250 of these entries. We laughed until we cried.

Sweet Peas in a can.And to add insult (to us Users) to injury, the Food Network suggests the following, just in case you are looking for other recipes like “English Peas”.

“Similar Recipes:
Seared Sea Scallops in Beurre Blanc with Baby Spring Vegetables in Puff Pastry”

From this is should be obvious that Ms. Deen is one of those gifts that keep giving: We already have featured her on our Wall of Shame in bfia Number 13 for her bizarre pronouncement on the origin of bacon; and now we get from her a ‘recipe’ for a can of vegetables swimming in grease. This is the kind of thing that gives English food a bad name… but for the Food Network’s audience. Television, apparently, promotes creativity as well as sloth.