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Beans From Oaxaca

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Ingredient Spotlight On the Road

I've just returned from a quick week in Oaxaca. What a wild state! You round a mountain and the next thing you know you're in a completely different terrain with a different culture and often even a different language. It's achingly beautiful and of course they have beans. Here are a few recent aquisitions. P1010048 From a town called Putla. I don't know that there's much reason to go unless you are a market freak. I am! Indigenous farmers from nearby pueblos come down for the big tianguis on Saturdays.The women have colorful huipiles, each pueblo with a distinct pattern. This bean was called China but I have a strong suspicion it's a tepary bean (Phaseolus acutifolius), native to the US southwest and Mexican north. It's drought tolerant and meaty. The size and markings make me think it's a brown speckled tepary. P1010054 P1010056 These pretty red beans caught my eye. I asked and was told they were called Cacahuate beans, or peanut beans, which is what Mexicans call cranberry beans. I was dubious until I saw the odd variants and look, they really do seem to be from the cranberry bean family. P1010061 P1010076 We can't keep our Sangre de Toros in stock long enough to make anyone happy so I was excited to see this red bean in the market. They're a little more oval but the color is similar. I'll cook them up this weekend and if the taste is on the money, we can try and get enough for seed and have one of our partners in the Rancho Gordo-Xoxoc Project grow it for us. P1010078 P1010064 A ways north is Cuicatlan, a beautiful little town I think is worth seeing for anyone going to Oaxaca. It's nestled in the mountains and there are deep red chunks of the mountains exposed. The food is excellent and the place seems to be thriving, despite it's isolated location. It's also where the famed chilhuacle chile comes from. Our hosts in Cuicatlan gave me these beans. The noted black beans from Oaxaca are called Negro Delgado Santera and they are delicious. When I was given this bag, I asked if these were the same and they said they were called De Arbol so I'm not sure if it's just Negro de Arbol (which I suspect as they aren't particularly delgado, or slim) or if they're indeed Negro Delgado de Arbol. An arbol is a tree and I'm assuming the plant has a more tree than bush-like growth. My hosts told me the beans were almost like milky coffee when they were cooked. Examining them more, I found the variant seeds looked like our beloved Moros, which I've always described as being similar to a black bean and this would support that. All good bean-geeky fun! P1010071


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