I Suffer Ful Gladly

When I lived in the UK briefly, I became enamored of broad beans, whose huge, leathery appearance suggests lima beans that have seen two tours of duty.  I had never had them before, and couldn’t find them again back home. And then I discovered one day that broad beans are the same as the fava beans of Hannibal Lecter fame.

Fava beans came to mind again early this spring when I was considering what to plant first in one of my raised beds. I had impulsively blanketed the bed with newspaper and dried leaves at the end of last season, hoping to suppress invading grass and kick up the organic content of the soil. But would anything grow well in it this season? It’s so carbon-heavy that not much nitrogen would be available, I feared. My epiphany: a plant that could fix its own nitrogen from the atmosphere. And of the many legumes, why not fava beans? So I planted ‘D’Aquadulce a Tres Longue Cosse’ fava bean, which appears to be doing beautifully.

My hope is to have enough fava beans to provide a steady supply of ful medames, “the lemon-kissed fava concoction of Egypt,” as Mark Bittman has described it. With fava beans, parsley, garlic, and lemon (and sometimes other ingredients, too), what’s not to love?

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