Sunday, December 19, 2010

Guatemalan Cuisine: Beans

The second most prevalent food in my diet here is beans.  They come in various forms and colors and make a good nutritional pairing with all the corn, as many vegetarians know.  In Sumpango we had almost exclusively black beans, but the beans went through a transformation over the course of each week, with a metamorphosis from enteros to colados or licuados and ending as volteados.  I enjoyed the progression, and found I liked each form more than the last, but was always perfectly happy to start the process over once more. 

Frijoles Enteros  are your basic whole black beans in their own sauce.  They’re made from the dry beans with water, garlic, and onion thrown together in an olla (pot) and set for a long slow cook over the wood-fired stove.  Some use a pressure cooker to speed things along.

Frijoles Colados or Licuados start with the Enteros but add in some more garlic and onion that have been sautéed in a pan.  Then everything is put into the licuador (blender) and out comes a smooth liquidy paste.  This can be spread on tostados or served in a bowl as is.  The ones pictured are less liquid than usual; I think this was the 2nd day of reheating them.

Volteados start as licuados and are cooked down in a pan over a burner for about 2 hours, becoming more dry and dense as it goes.  Once they dry out some the beans are flipped in the pan (volteado means overturned or tossed) and form a dense log.  In my view, Frijoles Volteados have the intense flavor and texture in the beans world that cheese logs have in the dairy world.
In my site we haven’t had any volteados, but the first two forms show up on the regular.  We also dip into a wider variety of beans, with red beans, white beans, fava beans and more making their rotation onto the plates.  One kind of bean (I don’t know what it was called, but it was large and green) left me uncomfortably gassy and bloated, but other than that I have no complaints on the abundance of beans.

Whereas corn is a character in every episode (or meal) of the Guatemalan cuisine drama, beans make an appearance just once or twice a day.  I would characterize them as the nosy neighbor or the quirky aunt in the storyline… they come in frequently and fill in the plot but don’t provide any shocking twists in the story (or surprises for the palate).  They are a reassuring repeat character that provides the foil for any guest stars that burst onto the scene.    

1 comment:

  1. Hmmmm.... Maybe the green beans are the villains in this literary analogy? LOL We should send you some "beano" for those meals!