Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Finding Beauty In What We Eat
I'm very fortunate as a cook to see so much beautiful produce coming into the kitchen everyday. Whether it be a case of sunshine coloured Meyer lemons, deep blue coronation grapes, bundles of carrots so colorful they resemble crayons, or quince so fragrant they perfume the whole walk in cooler. I take for granted how easy it is for restaurants to access produce this special (it literally is a phone call away) that I get disappointed when I go to the supermarket and see the same boring stuff.
There is a small organic grocery store about a ten minute walk from my place. The second I saw these beans, I had to buy them. They were beautiful. The pods were speckled with a faint pinkish colour, as if someone took a paintbrush and flicked some paint on it. The beans inside were pearly smooth and had the same gorgeous markings. It almost looked as if it could contain a chocolatey inside! I've never bought or cooked beans like this before. I searched online and learned what I bought were called cranberry beans. The last time I saw beans this unique was when I was working at West, and we had these dried beans called orca beans. They were stark black and white, the two colours swirled into each other. (Before I knew they were called orca beans, I named them killer whale beans).
I just shelled the beans and gently simmered them in water. Unfortunately, the markings faded from the beans after cooking. But they were so good! It had a firm creamy bite. I tossed them into my salad of roman beans, favas, and snow peas with a simple vinaigrette. Although it was delicious, I think next time braising the beans in a ragu of some sort would really show off their creaminess much better.
There are so many unusual (and beautiful) fruits and vegetables. It's easy to buy the same old without thinking simply because we know how to cook them. But sometimes we surprise ourselves. Who knows? Maybe we'll discover something new to add to our repetoire. We all need to eat. Expanding our culinary knowledge is something we should all strive to do.