[Sca-cooks] Food and personality

V A phoenissa at gmail.com
Tue Mar 4 12:58:31 PST 2008

On Tue, Mar 4, 2008 at 6:36 AM, Suey <lordhunt at gmail.com> wrote:

> Cuisine has been and is based on scratching the earth for legumes or
> beans to begin with. How did that legume or bean affect one's
> personality and one's heritage? How did food eaten by our ancestors
> contribute to making us different, regionally, nationally and universally?
> Suey

Well, just as an example, the Tuscans have been known as "mangiafagioli"
(bean-eaters) for some centuries now. :-)  Obviously it means they eat a lot
of beans (starting with old-world varieties like favas and chickpeas, but
later including the New World-derived beans we now think of as typical of
Northern Italian cooking, such as cannellini or borlotti).  It also means
that their cuisine is essentially a peasant cuisine, based on stretching
humble ingredients and making them delicious with the sparing but judicious
use of more expensive ones.  Pasta e fagioli, for example, is literally just
beans and noodles in broth; ribollita ("boiled twice") is a substantial soup
of beans and vegetables thickened with bread.  If you want to get fancy, you
can enrich the soffritto or broth with some kind of animal fat or a rind of
Parmesan; you can embellish the finished dish with olive oil, toasted
breadcrumbs, or grated cheese.  Tuscan cuisine is supremely economical, in
that it makes the most of its ingredients, even if the native ingredients do
not meet our supermarket-era opinion of diversity or variety.  But a truly
economical cuisine creates its own variety.

I could write a book or three about how my personal food philosophy
developed from beans and legumes....but that's a story for another time. ;-)


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