BRIGHT PINK ROSES AND CHARTREUSE BEANS
Dorothy Perkins and Fairy roses plus blue salvia and honeysuckle.
Dorothy Perkins blooms exuberantly in warm weather .
Sulphur yellow Louisiana iris.
The beans of contention.
Fusion grill with Halutza olive oil and ponzu sauce.
I bought them for their chartreuse color, feeling a bit like the main character in Katherine Mansfield's short story Bliss, "There were tangerines and apples, stained with strawberry pink. Some yellow pears, smooth as silk, some white grapes covered with a silver bloom and a big cluster of purple ones. Those last she bought to tone in with the new dining room carpet. Yes, that did sound farfetched and absurd, but it was really why she had bought them." My purchase, Mayacoba Peruano beans, came from the Mexican village of Mayacoba, in Sinaloa, as their name indicates.
Little did I know when I bought them that Mayacobas had been a bean of contention between American grower Larry Proctor and the Mexican government. Neither did I know that they had a long history in Peru, there archaeologists found a cache of seeds dating back to four thousand years before the Incas. It is not clear how Mayacobas came to Sinaloa, but apparently Mexican farmers had been growing them for centuries when Larry Proctor applied for a patent for Enola beans, which he claimed to have invented. Enola, it turns out, comes from subsets of Mayacobas Proctor bought in Mexico in 1990. The legal moves and countermoves through which Proctor sought to collect six cents for every pound of Mayacobas sold by vendors other than himself, in no way affect the nature of the delicious, almost nutty flavor and firm texture of these beans. But is not only flavor and textures that place these unusually colored beans at the center of a legal storm. What is really unusual about Mayacobas, aka azufrados and canarios, is that are very easy on the digestive system. That is, they are most definitely not a musical fruit.
Since the human intestinal tract lacks the enzymes needed to break down raffinose, the complex sugar found in beans, Mexican cooks have learnt add limit its effect by adding the herbs epazote and cilantro to beans dishes. There is no reason not to enhance the flavor of Mayacobas with herbs. They are great in salads and they go well with basil, oregano and, why not, fresh tarragon. If you wish to go wildly into fusion cooking, try them as a filling for wraps with grillewd beef that has been marinated in ponzu (soy sauce flavored with the citrus fruit yuzu), a mild Israeli olive oil such as Halutza, onions and garlic. You don't have to have tone them in with a sulphur yellow rug. I don't. In any case, the marvelous chartreuse color fades to creamy tan after cooking. If you crave color, have your meal under a rose arbor. Your Dorothy Perkins roses should be in full bloom at the moment. Mine came from a slip taken from an abandoned farmhouse--locally they are known as farmer's rose. They are one of the least demanding roses to grow. I am toying with the idea of adding sulphur yellow irises and coral bells to the flowerbed where they are planted. Blame it on the beans.