I wish I had news for all of you who wrote asking for substitutes for Black Eyed Pea. It's a southern new year's tradition but it really doesn't include a New World bean so I'm not too keen on offering advice. Personally, it seems to me if you start the new year out with a big bowl of any kind of beans, you are on the road to creating your own luck.
Over the weekend some friends came over for a last minute dinner party. We poached a chicken, made homemade tortillas and salsas and for the beans, we tried the black beans from Hidalgo that Yunuen and Gabriel sent. I was happy to have the beans but black beans are black beans in my mind so I wasn't prepared for the bean joy that exploded in my mouth. The beans were great but the "caldo", or bean broth was incredible. Rich, deep and almost chocolaty, some of my guests were literally licking their plates. OK, I confess these particular guests were 8 and 10 years old, but it warmed my heart to see their bad manners!
A pallet of these are reportedly on their way to our warehouse. They were in Laredo, Texas on Friday. We'll clean them and bag them as soon as possible.
I've tried to not let on too much about this project, fearing it may not pan out, but things really look good. In short, I'm working with my friends in Hidalgo to import heirloom, heritage, fresh beans grown by small farmers.These farmers are given the shaft time and again and now barely grow enough of their own beans for their own use. NAFTA and free trade policies have opened the door to some really cheap, awful imports into Mexico. We're trying to create a small market for the heirloom, regional beans that are in danger of being forgotten.
When we start selling these beans, they'll be clearly noted as imports, and not part of our regular production here in Northern California. I still support our local ag scene but this is an exciting opportunity to make a small difference in reversing some of the damage that our policiess have brought to our neighbors. I'm not qualified to criticize the overall effect of our foreign policies. I just know we need to save these beans and we might just do it, a little at a time.
I don't want to give the impression that this is all charity or I'm particularly kind and wonderful. The bottom line is these beans are delicious and I'm hoping to sell the hell out of them. We all win on this one! I'll post more details as they develop.