BEANS

If you mention gastronomía asturiana, la fabada [understood to be asturiana] will pop up. The basics required to cook a fabada follow.

Ingredients for 4 people: 400 g of fabes (French beans) 200 g of Asturian spicy sausage 200 g of Asturian black puddings (dry, smoked) 200 g of shoulder of pork 100 g of bacon or streaky bacon 6 sprigs of saffron salt.

Put the beans to soak overnight in cold water. Also place the shoulder of pork and the bacon in another container with warm water. Next day, wash the black pudding and the spicy sausage. Then place the beans in a wide-based earthenware dish with enough water to cover them by a couple of fingers. Boil uncovered on a high flame, removing any scum with a skimming spoon. Add the shoulder of pork and the bacon and simmer with the lid on for 2 hours, moving the dish around from time to time. Season and add the saffron, spicy sausage and the black pudding, leaving it all to cook together for approximately quarter of an hour.Taste the beans to check they are tender and leave to stand for half an hour before serving

Serve in the same earthenware dish. Offer with ‘compango’ (blood pudding, spicy sausage, shoulder of pork and bacon) cut into pieces in a separate dish.

It is a slow-cooking, simmering stew made from fine quality ingredients at home.  The beans need to get soft but should not break. Recipes vary from family to family, but as the Spanish proverb goes, beans cook in every household. It does sound better in the original below.

En todas partes cuecen habas.

You might see faba or fava in haba.  There is a family resemblance.

Nowadays, this expression means that something negative, perhaps an injustice is occurring. We don’t think of ourselves only but the fact that it can happen anywhere!

Another popular dish, related to the regional cider, is chorizo sliced and sautéed with a touch of  loal cider. Excellent tapa! BUEN PROVECHO.

As for expressions, a chorizo in Spanish slang is a small time crook or thief. Just like Francisco (aka Calif/Paco) in One Dress, One Day.  

“Francisco bore the name of the patron saint of his mother’s village, but he related more to the US West Coast city and tried to get everyone to use his alias California.  It never stuck. A few people called him by the nickname Paco, though. His parents, a Moroccan mechanic and a pure-blood Spanish cleaning lady, teased him as a toddler calling him feo, or ugly. He never truly outgrew that one. Skinny with acne-pocked skin, Francisco possessed wit, charm and street smarts.  His overly gummy smile somehow endeared him to policemen and older women. They all saw something salvageable in him.  Perhaps even a hint of honor.  In fact, by squealing on lowlife acquaintances and pleasantly providing small knock-off luxe items, he had earned the trust of undercover cops and other players in the barrio. His universe was the inner core of Barcelona…”

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Para Tomar or Drinking in Local Colour

No sangría, sidra

Sidra, por favor

If you asked for the name of a favourite Spanish drink, the first answer would be sangria.  However, sidra, cider in English, remains a popular regional beverage in Asturias, a province of northern Spain. 

The traditional light apple cider, fermented and packaged like champagne gives this regional classic a certain nobility.  Traditionally, perhaps now folklorically, sidra is poured from on high, a glowing fountainlike flow created by holding the bottle up and the glass low. This cider’s alcohol content is similar to beer’s. Light and now available in a non-alcoholic version, Asturian sidra should be sold everywhere, yet it remains limited to Spain, some Hispanic marketplaces, and Spanish specialty stores.

One renowned brand uses the gaitero as name and image. Again, many consider Spain to be a land of white villages, gypsies and sangria; whereas the northern provinces (Gallicia and Asturias) resemble Scotland more than anything else.  Many residents have a Celtic air about them.  This influence appears in Gallego and Asturiana music  so the bagpipe player (gaitero) suits sidra perfectly. The old-fashioned image appearing here gives you some local colour.

Given the cool damp climate, Asturians do not shy away from a drink to warm up or to mark an occasion. Besides fine Spanish sherry or brandy, Asturias possesses is Anis de Asturias. Every self-respecting local must have on hand one long tall shiny bottle for guests.  If not drunk often enough, the mouth of the bottle accumulates sugar. In a region known for gastronomy and hospitality, you do not see this phenomenon often.

In One Dress, One Day, there is a reference to one character’s family  cider business, but the regional anise liquor plays a more important role when the farm family of Uno, Nieves and Mother reunites and takes a celebratory sip.  In fact, later, Uno, the blind son and lottery ticket-seller, recalls the licora.

Uno decided to break the news as gently as possible to Mother only after she got up. That nip of licora had really put her to sleep.  He could easily justify buying the four extra loaves in gratitude for the driver’s bringing them news.  Right then, Uno felt not so much fear but more a sense of purpose, of belonging with Nieves, Mother, and the farm, even the province. He thanked the driver again and headed back upstairs on tiptoe.”

To be continued…

¡Salud!

SALUD or to your health!