Introduction

Dry peas, lentils, beans, and chickpeas—known as pulses—are among the world’s most ancient commodities. Archeologists have discovered peas in caves in what is present day Thailand that date back more than 11,000 years. The royal Egyptian tombs contained lentils, which were meant to sustain the dead on their journey to the afterlife. In the Christian Bible, Esau sold his birthright for a pottage of lentils. And, in Italy, the names for peas (Pisum sp.), lentils (Lens culinaris), and chickpeas (Cicer arietinum) found their way into the names of the prominent Roman families of Piso, Lentulus, and Cicero.