Multi-Dimensional Beans

One time when I was house-sitting, my friend gave me permission to look in the kitchen cupboards and help myself to the food there. So I did that. A clear, crispy cellophane bag of dried garbanzo beans with a pretty label that said “Rancho Gordo, Napa, California,” caught my eye. They were larger and a deeper color than the garbanzo beans I usually bought at the grocery store.

I pressure cooked them for twenty-two minutes in my Instant Pot and to my surprise, they had a much richer flavor and a firmer texture than the store bought garbanzo beans. I then made my all-time favorite hummus recipe named “Easy Hummus – Better than Store Bought”, created by Inspired Cooking; you can look it up on the internet. It was more flavorful than ever before. Then I had one of those “ah-ha” moments where life was just . . . good. I felt like a prospector who had just found gold. I felt excited, joyful and nourished.

Now I was curious. Who is this Rancho Gordo? I darted to their website and learned they specialize in growing heirloom beans. I read the description: “Heirloom beans tend to have a lower yield and can be much more difficult to grow but the payoff is in the unique flavors that you won’t find with bland commodity beans.” Ah-ha! That’s it! Even a humble garbanzo bean can explode with flavor. This made me starkly aware about how much of food’s essence has been sacrificed in the name of large scale farming. Over the years, I have heard folks who are in their 80’s or 90’s express in dismay how bland the food is nowadays as compared to what they remembered when they were younger.

I moseyed around on the website and viewed the colorful pictures and vivid descriptions with delight. Most of the beans I had never seen in a grocery store, like King City Pink, Santa Maria Pinquito, Eye of the Goat, Good Mother Stallard, Whipple. I was amazed, there are forty in all, some so popular there is a waiting list. A bean with a subtle chocolate and coffee flavor named Rio Zape – wow! A humble dish like refried beans could become a festive, special occasion treat when made with those. The recipe is on their website – There’s also a waiting list for the “Bean of the Month Club”. Yes, you read that right and I put my name on that list. When you join, you get rare beans that are limited in production.

Even a humble staple ingredient like a garbanzo bean can go from ordinary to extraordinary in just one quick click on their website.