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The black-eyed pea, also known as the cow pea, is thought to have originated in North Africa, where it has been eaten for centuries. It may have been introduced into India as long as 3,000 years ago, and was also a staple of Greek and Roman diets. The peas were probably introduced to the New World by Spanish explorers and African slaves, and have become a common food in the southern United States, where they are available dried, fresh, canned, and frozen. The flavorful peas are used to make soups, salads, fritters, and casseroles; they can also be puréed; or sprouted.