Saturday, May 29, 2010

a love of labor

Fava beans. Do you love them or hate them? Maybe you love to eat them, but couldn't imagine ever putting in the labor beforehand to do so. This is where I stood just a few years ago. I liked the idea of them, but somehow when it came to boiling, then shelling, then skinning, then cooking again, I just couldn't manage. But things are different now. Funny as it sounds, I love the labor involved.

About a month ago, I bought my first sack of favas of the season. Bringing them home and performing all the labor, I was depressed thinking of the tiny amount of beanie yield in the end. So I put them into another dish that is a labor of love. It was my first rice torte with favas in it, and I immediately thought of my grandma. Did she make something like this? The flavors went together well; she must have.

Then, last week, I was at a friend's house picking up my empty beer keg from the Ferment Change party. "Hey, you want some favas?" I think he got to the F when I blurted out "hell yeah!" We went outside and stripped his plants, yielding a bag much larger than what I would pay for at the market. I brought them home, put them in the fridge and planned for some work time the next day.

With the majority of the labor complete, I tossed some bacon and onions in a pan and started cooking. I got the water boiling for noodles. With the onions a light caramel color, and the bacon getting a touch crispy, I chucked in the favas. A few minutes later, they were ready for some sauce. I put in some more butter, a touch of flour, stirred it quickly and thoroughly, then added a cup or so of milk. I cooked it until it was thickening, then added a cup or so of grated parm. It was pointing toward the best thing I've ever made with favas.

My lord it was good! I wolfed down a few bowls AND there were lots of leftovers. Definitely, the best yet.

Then, the next day, I was out in my garden, tending my favas. They are really late, still blooming, but showing promise of having a nice harvest. I had my head down in the plants when some Jehovah's Witnesses came walking by. I stood up to say hi, and attempt to graciously turn down their literature. I was met with a broad smile and few questions:
"Hey, you like the favas? Do you know what to do with the favas?" an elderly woman named Rosa was asking me in somewhat broken english.
"Sure," I said. "You lovingly think of your grandma as you prepare the beans, then fry them up in a pan with some pancetta and onions. Then eat it right there or add some parmesan and put it on some pasta."
"Oh, I see maybe you are Italian no?"
"Sounds like enough to me. You have a good day."
"I promise," I said.
Then I went inside and had another bowl.