When I arrived at their home, I stood on the porch and rang the doorbell while marveling at the height of the bean plants in their front yard. I had come for Louis's famous Calabrian Beans, but I didn't suspect that the bean plants would be over 10 feet tall.
|Calabrian beans worthy of Jack and the Beanstalk, with rosemary in foreground, L&L's house, July 2010.|
I heard Lisa call out "She's here!" from inside and I felt bad that I was a few minutes late, silently cursing the car that blocked the exit ramp with it's flat tire fiasco. Oh, well, I'd made it. And I had brought them a jar of my homemade pickles. They would be the first people to try them outside my own family. I knew Louis was especially fond of them and I figured they'd surely forgive my tardiness to get their hands on the pickles, if nothing else. When Lisa got to the front door, I was quickly ushered into the kitchen where Louis was slaving over a hot stove in 100 degree weather, frying up some delicious looking squash blossoms and apologizing that they weren't perfect. A little messy? Yes. Delicious? Yes.
Louis had warned me that he does NOT give people beans "to go" so I knew I'd better enjoy them. After all, it might be my only chance to eat them this year. He does, however, give away seeds at the end of the season, so I'm hoping I'll be able to grow my own next year. Louis' famous Calabrian beans are actually a variety of Borlotti beans, unavailable commercially even in Italy. The original seeds were brought to this continent by his family in the 1950's from a town called San Giorgio Morgeto, in the mountains of southern Italy. His family (and others) have "been propagating and eating a steady supply" ever since.
Always a food purist, Louis also told me that there were only two ways to eat Calabrian beans and we were going to eat them both ways. Lucky me! I have to say it was hard to choose between the two ways.
Bean Dish Number One was "beans with pasta", cooked in tomato sauce with a hint of Calabrian pepper, which Lisa and Louis also grow. Delicious. Lisa was nice enough to fish out extra beans to add to my pasta when she realized that I was scarfing them down faster than the pasta. I told them I felt like my Grandma Willie who always requested just enough "seconds" of meat to match the piece of bread she had left on her plate. She'd hold up her piece of bread and say, "I need just this much!" while pointing at her bread bite. I held up my plate and said, "I need just enough beans to go with my pasta" and wondered how many beans I could convince Lisa to fish out of the bowl for me.