Saturday, May 28, 2011

Food Preferences are the Window to the Soul

Little Jackets, 2011

He was a very comfortable sort, often compromising for the greater good, until it came to fava beans. The pods had to be firm and measure between five and six inches. His desired shade of green was difficult to describe, but he knew it when he saw it. First the beans were shelled. Next, blanched, ever so briefly. Anyone could handle the first shelling and quick blanch, these were the steps that mattered least to him, but he liked to remove the little jackets himself. He found it meditative and gratifying. Only one cheese could accompany his tender little beans, Pecorino, the Romano variety, grated on the fine side of the box grater. The prepared beans had to be served in a specific ceramic oval dish, glazed in a deep periwinkle blue. There were no substitutions. The day I ate my favas in a white ramekin with Parmigiano-Reggiano felt a betrayal.


  1. Yes, meditative and gratifying, these small acts in the kitchen. Happy Memorial Day to you.

  2. love this post. brings to mind some great food rituals. my grandfather used to reach into the fridge and pull out a shiny white fennel bulb cut into thin wedges. it was wrapped in wax paper. always wax paper. and in a shallow clear dish, he'd pour olive oil from a red tin and sprinkle ground fresh black pepper. then came the gentle nudging to have some. i kinda liked the crinkling sound of the wax paper. have a great weekend. can't wait for the next post.

  3. It sounds absolutely delicious. Can you believe I've never tasted fava beans? And somehow it feels like I know what they taste like. I planted some this year - crossing my fingers they'll turn out nicely.
    Lovely story, too.

  4. There is just something so calming about food rituals.

  5. so beautifully written...
    love favas myself, thy are essence of spring to me :)

  6. " a specific ceramic oval dish, glazed in a deep periwinkle blue."

    Such delicious details. The betrayal so beautifully staged.

    Here's to beans of all kinds, and yes, food preferences are a window to the soul.

    g xo

  7. I so enjoyed this food prose poem, succinct and beautifully written. conjures all those connections of ritual and comfort in food prep, (like slipping off the roasted peels of tomatoes or peppers) meditative repetitious acts (like the snapping of green beans)
    and your personal connection--lovingly observed.

  8. Yes, the rituals. I feel connected to certain people by sharing some kind of food related ritual with them. Like when I clean the vine leaves in the same way my grandmother does, or dicing a tomato exactly the same way my mom does it—always subconsciously.
    Yet, small betrayals are just the beginning of new rituals, aren't they?

  9. Reminds me of my grandparents. Gardeners, particular about how and what they planted and ate. Was this man Italian by chance? :^)

  10. Can't wait for the favas. Going to have to find the perfect bowl...

  11. Strange how careful preparation can make all the difference. And wonderful too, to take pleasure in the ritual and process as well as the finished process.

  12. Cha sen, I have so many memories like this one, all of them special.

    countingdandelions, I think I like your grandfather : )

    Anja, They are easy to like. I'm sure you will love them.

    Michele, I so agree.

    M., Thank you. They do feel like springtime.

    Rachael, Ha, true. I didn't even see it that way, but yes.

    gracia, Here's to all beans!

    nancy, Thank you. I do like learning about the food rituals others perform and what books they read. My two obsessions.

    magda, I probably have a food memory linked to every person I love. I'm sure your grandmother and mom have loved your following in their footsteps. Yes, I agree, a small betrayal, a good one worth repeating, can be the beginning of a new ritual.

    Janis, His ancestry is not Italian, but my mother's side of the family is Sicilian. I've inherited the need to always discuss food ;)

    Julia, I know you will and that you'll devour them in some delicious way.

    Joyti, I do believe that care makes a dish taste better, but it also highlights the finished product vanishing too quickly.

  13. SOme things really must be taken seriously. Beans among them. Trust me. Ken

  14. So evocative, Denise. I love the way you tell a story.

  15. Lovely. I too enjoy the ritual of preparing fresh fava beans -- especially bathed in KerryGold butter and showered with fresh mint. Divine.

  16. I had fava beans for the first time last week and I felt like I was being let in on a great secret. They are so good! Also, impressive looking.

  17. Ken, It seems you know a thing or two about beans, so yes, I trust you.

    Lecia, Thank you.

    Nancy, KerryGold and fresh mint, yum. I'll try it when he's out of town.

    Maggie, I am glad you have added favas to your life. I agree, they are such a beautiful bright green underneath those little jackets.

  18. My Sicilian sister ... both sides for me. Big hug!

  19. Janis, Both sides. I had no idea. So we have a connection : )