Shopping at a Mexican mercado for beans can be a daunting experience for the uninitiated. You want to look for the freshest beans, and make sure they are not mixed; you don’t want to by the pale yellow Peruvian beans, perujanas, mixed with the pale pink flor de mayo, or flor de junio (flower of May or Flower of June), for example, as the cooking times may vary, leaving you with some overcooked, and some indigestible undercooked, beans.
When you spot a mountain of beans in the market, follow the example of the Mexican woman, who will swoop down into the pile and bring up a handful of beans, letting them trickle through her fingers. She is looking for telltale holes in the beans or a powdery substance that indicates a little bug or a family of weevils may have gotten to the beans before you did. When you find good fresh beans, make sure to pour over them before you use them, bean for bean, and pick out any little bits of rocks, stems or small dirt clods. This is a great thing to do while watching your favorite TV novella or listening to tapes and CDs in Spanish from The Warren Hardy Foundation Course. Be sure to rinse beans right before using them.
Remember, the older the bean, the longer they take to cook, so freshness is vital. Also don’t forget that while cooking beans in San Miguel Allende, everything takes longer to cook here because of the high altitude.
You now have an olla and you know how to choose quality beans in the marketplace. Are you ready to learn a couple of the secrets to making a delicious pot of beans and more? Read next Thursday’s Comida Mexicana to find out how.