One of the gifts I received this past holiday season was a copy of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s cookbook, “Jerusalem.” Both Ottolenghi and Tamimi grew up in the city of Jerusalem, and, though Ottolenghi is Jewish and Tamimi is Arab, they became — in their own words — “close friends and then business partners.”
When string bean season started here in New York a couple weeks ago, I turned to Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s book for ideas. There I found a wonderful recipe using a variety of string beans, garlic, onion, fresh herbs, cumin, and coriander seeds. When tossed together, this hodgepodge of flavors create a beautiful and harmonious dish.
When I was a little girl, my paternal grandmother had a sewing basket that she kept in the enclosed back porch of her Chicago home. Inexplicably, at the bottom of the basket — alongside the needles, thread, and darning egg — were more than a dozen shiny marbles, each different from the other. I couldn’t wait to hold each one up to the light and admire its size, shape, color, and unique design. Each year, when cranberry beans come into season, I am reminded of the surprise I experienced when I first found the precious and beautiful little objects in such an unpredictable place.
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never given much thought to how chick peas — also known as garbanzo beans — come into the world. For most of us, we are familiar with them only once their dried and put in a bag or cooked and put in a can. You may be surprised, then, to learn that they come into the world the way most humans do — alone. Unlike other legumes, most chick peas come in their own little pod. I guess that means they don’t fight much with their siblings while they’re growing up.