This is a Seed Story with a recipe for Chilean Shell Bean Soup (to skip to the recipe please scroll down).
The importance of a seed's ancestry and its journey parallels that of humanity, and increasingly we'd like to recapture the meaning and significance of our ancestral and heritage foods. I believe this is because seeds are the carriers of our cultures- they offer the comfort and spiritual nourishment we are often lacking. The beloved vegetables, grains and fruit of our people, whether we are immigrants, or from a certain region in the US, or Native American, these are precious parts of our cultural and ethnic wellbeing.
The stories of our seeds are important in honoring our origins and worthy of safekeeping.
|The shell beans are green and tender|
Although I was born in Chile, my family immigrated to California when my brother and I were very young. While we were growing up we recall hearing our parents talk lovingly and longingly (a lot!) about a Chilean dish called porotos granados, It was only as an adult that I realized they were referring to a type of dish made with shell beans, which is the literal translation of ‘porotos granados’. This thick soup is a popular summer dish made with fresh corn, shell beans and winter squash, flavored with sweet basil and paprika. They are also used as a dry bean.The porotos granados seeds were sent to me by a generous gardener I met at the 2014 Annual Seed Savers Exchange Conference and Harvest, at Heritage Farm in Decorah Iowa. We sat down to lunch together at the conference to chat about gardening. As we chatted she told me she was going to Chile in a few months to work at a lodge with a chef (Mapuyampay Lodge Gastronomico, near Curicó). She wanted to experience working in the organic garden there, and to cook with the chef, Ruth Van Waerebeek, author of the book I have at home on Chilean food (The Chilean Kitchen). I was impressed by this serendipity! So I told her I would absolutely love to have seeds from the traditional foods, especially corn, beans and squash. In 2017 I received a stash of seeds from her collected from the garden at Mapuyampay. I am extremely grateful that she took the time and care to send them to me.
|The striking red color of the pods|