1/22/10

Surprise!

“Cliff, did you set the chickpeas on the boil to make beans for the beans and rice?”

“I thought you made beans already.”

“No, that’s not for beans and rice, that’s West African Black Bean & Yucca stew. Beans and rice beans don’t get garlic, remember?”

“Yeah, but that’s what it’s labelled as. Go look.”

I walked to the walk-in. And there, in three little service buckets, sat my bean stew, being labelled as just Beans. Crud. I grabbed a sharpie, and added “soup” to the end of the label, so that it’s differentiated between the bean soup and the beans and rice.

Y’see, every day at Chow, we try to do a bean soup and a vegetable soup. Of course, it’ll be gluten-free 99 times of 100, and it’s relatively low in fiery spices, like chiles or pepper, so that anyone can have a big bowl full without feeling pain. However, because so many people requested it, we started doing a special for beans and rice, where we cook a different bean every day, in a different technique. If the soup restrictions seem a little strict, let’s look at the restrictions for the beans and rice beans.

1) No garlic or onions. A lot of people who come in follow vegetarian diets with religious overtones, and many of the Eastern philosophies discourage the consumption of garlic and onions.

2) No soy. There are a lot of people allergic to soy who are stymied by the lack of choices out there. Even in many vegan places, they’ll end up using tamari or soy sauce instead of salt, to give more umami flavour. This means that stuff that’s ostensibly free of soy, like seitan, will often have soy sauce as a flavouring agent, and will be unsafe for those with soy allergies.

3) No gluten. This one is so obvious that I shouldn’t even have to explain it, but here goes anyway. A lot of the food at Sacred Chow is gluten free. People who follow gluten free diets often come in and are excited to try all the options available to them. Whenever possible, we cook food without gluten, so that everyone can give it a taste, and revel in the experience, regardless of health needs.

4) Nothing too hot-spicy. While there’s food at Chow that packs a bit of a kick (Mama’s Soy Meatballs, Korean Cutlets, Black Olive Seitan, etc.) we wanted the beans and rice to be accessible to anyone. So in other words, this means “Dino, put the chiles down.”

I did yet another once-over of the fridge, and found a service bucket with beans in it. “Cliff! What’s this?”

“Isn’t that the black beans you made?”

“Uh. It looks like the red beans that you made.”

Apparently, around the same time as Cliff had made a pot of adzuki beans & pumpkin for the beans of the day, I had made a small pot of black bean chili for a soup. Either way, someone managed to confuse the two, and combined them. The resulting flavour was delicious. The chili’d black beans (cooked in bell peppers, chili powder, and a hint of cumin) went very well with the adzuki beans (cooked with pumpkin, various herbs, and simmered low and slow till tender). The sweetness of the pumpkin complemented the spices of the bean chili extremely well.

Basically, everyone benefits, because now there’s chili for the beans and rice of the day, and it’s ten times more delicious together than it would have been apart.

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