Sunday, July 29, 2012

Chilenismo Espanglish Nostalgia....

Last night we made Porotos Granados at home.
A few people have asked for the recipe, so I'm putting it here.
but a recipe is never complete without a story....

When I left home I could not cook. Not a bit. Not even fried rice. I'd split boiled eggs, and had no idea about anything....
Like any first year uni student, I lived on junk food and goon and lost a lot of weight and got really sick, and that's a really long story, by the start of second year I was down to 58 kilos which is 46 less kilos than what I weigh now. It made me a cheap drunk, but I got picked up and carried through the air by a wind tunnel at UNSW once, so it wasn't fun.

At the start of second year I met El Veijo, who proceeded to feed my up on amazing soul food, made by his hands with recipes taught to him by his mother.
I don't think Chilean cuisine has entered the ranks of gentrified Gourmet, and it's not a bad thing. It remains a wonderful secret of healthy, nourishing fusion of Spanish and Quechua and Mapuche and the proximity to a long coastline full of seafood (at least before the Japanese started using driftnets).

El Veijo was and is a wonderful cook. He could make a lentil stew taste like love and made the best seafood soup I've ever had, and still does here. It's almost worth the trip to Ecuador just to taste it.
We both lived on Austudy for our 4-year marriage, while I slowly realised that I was probably gay, and him growing his hair down to his waist wasn't going to meet my needs, and he realised the tragic fact of genuine asylum meant the return of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his multiple arrests in Chile....

But we ate well, REALLY well.
I developed a lifelong addiction to Palta con Pan (Avocado on bread) for breakfast, even if I have ditched the Pevre and Salami accompaniment....
El Veijo taught me to cook, by making the same dish every night. It was delicious and nourishing, and called "Allende Soup" because it was a recipe popularised under Salvador Allende - basically a way for poor people to create a nutritious meal out of cheap vegetables and stretch 1 chorizo between a family of 6. It took me 6 weeks of eating "allende soup" every night for me to teach myself to cook. Over 20 years later, I still can't face the thought of eating it again, nor can I find the recipe (yet).

Raised on a standard 1980s country diet of Sara Lee and shrinkwrapped vegetables, I had no idea about seasonal produce and season recipes. El Veijo taught me the poetry of fresh artichokes, available for 3 weeks a year, boiled for 40 minutes and slowly peeled leaf by leaf dripped into a mixture of lemon juice olive oil and salt, until the climax of the heart, salty, sour, acrid, soft all in one.

He also taught me about "Porotos Granados" - which are available fresh a few weeks in the year (Autumn? I can't remember) and which I only realised last year - are called "Borlotti Beans" in Australia.

Ahh! the humble and exquiste Bean! A bean is the perfect lingua franca translation of the term "hermosa". Small, closed, and so many rich discoveries inside. A dried bean or a canned bean has almost nothing in common with a fresh bean. It's like comparing Soymilk with Edame. Same botany, different stuff.

And so, when Porotos Granados are in season and a continental fruit shop has a tray of fresh healthy looking long pink speckled pods, is the time to buy them up and make this wonderful soup. It's vegan and probably gluten free too (unless you decide to use butter or animal stock), and SOOO YUMMY.

Last year I saw Porotos Granados in the Footscray Markets, and had the weird experience of asking the shopkeepers in my strine accent "I don't know the name of these in English" and decided to use the recipe with the Healthy Living group of Latinos in Sunshine. So - once again I rediscovered the joys of Porotos Granados, and the words in my mouth and ears of cooking in Spanish and Espanglish -with a pan-Latino group - where in each country the words for each food traditional to the Americas has a different indigenous name. So the Mayan's Maize, becomes the Quechua Choclo, and I don't know the rest of the Mayan names for potatos, avocados, pumpkin, but only the Quechuanesque terms of patas, paltas, zapallo.....

The markets had fresh Porotos again this weekend, so now is a good time to make it. I've listed the ingredients below in Chilenismo - with English translation, but the recipe itself is in English.

It takes about 30 minutes to do all the shelling, peeling and chopping and needs about an hour or more to cook. Perfect excuse to invite friends over, do the prep together and then watch a trashy video waiting for the soup to cook....

Ingredientes: (for 4-6)

2 kilos de porotos Granados (2 kg fresh Borlotti Beans)

½ kilo de zapallo pelado y picado en cubitos (1/2 kg pumpkin peeled and cubed)

3 choclos medianos  (3 fresh corn cobs)

2 tabletas de caldo de pollo o verduras (2  stock cubes - I prefer these to using the liquid stock because it is too salty and the beans cook more slowly)

1 cebolla mediana picada fina (1 medium onion finely chopped)

2 dientes de ajo machacados (2 cloves of garlic)

1 ají verde o al gusto (1 green chilli or as to taste - I use 1-2 small red chillies)

10 hojas de albahaca (10 basil leaves)

2 cucharada de aceite o manteca (2 tablespoons oil/butter)

1 cuchara de oregano secco (1 tablespoon dried oregano)

½ cucharadita de pimienta (1/2 teaspoon pepper)

sal al gusto (salt to taste)

Shell and wash the beans, drain and set aside.
Peel the pumpkin and cut into 2cm cubes and set aside.
Peel the corn, and cut the kernels off into a bowl, and then blend into a fine paste (using a blender). Set this aside.

Cut the onion and garlic into tiny cubes, and fry in 2 tablespoons of oil.
when they are golden (clear), add 1 chopped green chilli and 1 chopped red chilli.
Add salt, pepper, and dried oregano.
Then add pumpkin and the beans and some stock powder.
Add enough water to cover the mixture (it should be around 2 litres) and then cover and simmer for 1 hour, or until beans are soft. (you may need to stir occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom)

when beans are soft, add the creamed corn, and season to taste. 
Add some of the basil tips, and leave to simmer for another 10 minutes.
Stir and serve into bowls. Tear 2-3 basil leaves and place on top.

alternatively - you can make a "Pevre" - a mixture of finely chopped coriander, onions, garlic and chillis and garnish each bowl with this.


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