The Portuguese triumvirate of legumes

BY SUSANA LOURENÇO . PORTUGAL . EUROPE

Fava beans, chickpeas and beans

Fava beans, chickpeas and beans. A triumvirate of three legumes species that rules Portuguese gastronomy and my mum’s home cooked meals ever since I can remember.

Chickpeas with poached dried salted cod was a staple at our Sunday table, holding for me the ritual of agonizing hands trying to peal off the crackling shells of hot hard-boiled eggs. It also meant the piquant freshness of chopped parsley, onions and garlic cloves spreading throughout the entire kitchen, landing its flavours on top of our dishes.

It’s incredible how strong a feeling aromas can recall… The fragrant scent of red beans slowly simmering on my stove still recapture the first time I saw my mother cooking them over the fire in an ash black iron stew pot, among pungent clove buds, scorching chillies and a sprig of parsley, cilantro and bay leaves to compose the Portuguese style “feijoada”. It has always embodied a very authentic way of cooking and one of my all time favourite national dishes.

But, for me, nothing can surpass “favas à portuguesa”, a Portuguese style stew with fava beans, three different kinds of chorizos and pork ribs. Every now and then I indulge myself in its strong and simple character, reviving my appetite for substantial traditional food that reveals the rurality of a country but also its great and distinct tastiness, the true heart of a land and of a mother.

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