Monday, December 20, 2010

The Legume Experiments

It started with a plate of crowder peas.

I'd been wandering the streets of New Orleans with a camera around my neck, feeling sorry for myself for not very good reasons. I'd just finished admiring the Absinthe museum's collection of slotted spoons behind glass, and had walked past the Cornstalk Hotel and their famous corn cob cast-iron fence.

It was hot and I was thirsty. I remembered passing a bright red restaurant the day before with lots of people inside. At the time I said, "Self, eat there if you can." So, parched and starving, I retraced my steps and refound the Praline Connection.

At mid-day I had no trouble getting a seat. I sat in the back facing the door and ordered an Abita beer. It came cold in the bottle and I swallowed it whole. When the waitress came back I ordered another, along with the fried chicken plate.

The sides included something I'd never eaten before: crowder peas. I've never been much of a food blogger, so you'll just have to take my word they were outstanding.

Ever since then I've been on the lookout for exotic legumes (at least to me exotic, which is pretty much in the category of "Things that aren't kidney or pinto beans").

And that's how I stumbled into cassoulet and pigeon peas.

The cassoulet story isn't for today, but the pigeon peas are a current event. I'm rehydrating a dried bag of them on the kitchen counter for dinner as I type. And tonight I will attempt to make: Arroz con Gandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas).

I bought some Goya brand Sofrito and an envelope of Sazon con Culantro y Achiote. Both of these ingredients are new to me and I have no idea how it'll turn out. Our local grocery store did not have banana leaves and I didn't feel like going anywhere else, so I'll leave those out this time.

Yes, sir. The theme of the day is beans. Also, I just finished the first draft of a ten-minute play. Burying the lede is fun!

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