When I last left you, most of the Karagöz puppets were snoozing in the unseasonable sun, and the Write-a-matrix had slunk off in supreme defeat, after I failed to do academic work OTHER than grading papers. This left me on the porch, taking a gander at the progress of the soaking fava fasulye or fava beans once in a while. I shelled a number of them, no easy feat, by the time M. came home, but we finished shelling them together.
I treasured every moment of sitting together on the porch, quiet, just listening to the world around us, the breeze picking up the errant sound of super-soaked fava beans squishing out of their easily-hardened shells. One of my favorite memories from growing up involves sitting with my Mother on the stoop, where we would chat away as we peeled carrots, onions or apples for some supper-related item. M. and I have a bit of a different rhythm when it comes to food preparation together – it is more of a quiet thing – but I love doing that work together. M. knows how much I love the chatting aspect of this work, so perhaps in a nod to my familial tradition, he told me about the lemon, garlic and olive-oil infused fava bean paste he grew up eating at home.
“Did you ever shell beans with your Anne (mum), then?” I asked, hoping to learn more about his beloved mother.
“No, canım sweetheart, I did not. She had help in the house…” he said, his voice trailing off, perhaps a bit guilty at the memory.
“I guess boys were not expected to do those things?” I asked gently, hoping I was not making a stereotype.
“Probably so,” M. said, looking down as he worked on a particularly recalcitrant beans not wishing to leave its shell, “I love the smell of them!”
Not understanding the allure of the somewhat sour, astringent smell emanating from the light green soaking bowl, I just nodded my head and smiled. Clearly, I thought, this is a culturally-acquired taste.
About that time, a friend text messaged me, asking what I was up to. I had to laugh when she said “and will you serve your fava beans with a nice Chianti?” referring, of course, to the inimitable Hannibal Lechter in The Silence of the Lambs – this is the primary reference point most Americans I know have when it comes to fava beans.
So, in honor of fava fasulye, here is the recipe that M. and I have collaborated on for fava ezmesı.
Fava Ezmesı a la Slowly-by-Slowly
1 pound bag of soaked, shelled fava beans
1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock
10 garlic cloves, pressed or mashed (not chopped)
One bay leaf (defne)
Olive oil to taste
Salt and pepper
Lemon juice to taste
Optional: A full sprig of minced, fresh rosemary – it is a lot, be we over spice everything as we like it that way although M. says this is not the tradition he grew up with (biberiye)
1) Place the soaked and shelled fava beans in the slow cooker with the chicken or vegetable stock and bay leaf (and if you like, the rosemary). Put the slow cooker on high and once it is bubbling away at a good clip, let it go for 2 hours or until the beans are soft. You will be surprised to see how long it takes for the beans to find their softness in the water. Be prepared for your usually friendly neighbors to comment on the odor.
2) Once the beans are fully soft, pulse the fava beans into a paste with the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice as well as the salt and pepper to taste.
3) Enjoy it with some lovely hot ekmek (bread) or crusty crackers (I have some sea-salt baked melba toasts I am eyeing for this purpose).