When I was a child, my mother had to beg me to eat “fasolada” (bean soup), one of Greece’s national dishes. It is only when I visited the area in northern Greece known as Prespes as an adult that I truly understood how important beans might be.
I saw people in the fields cultivating them, using reed poles to prop up the beanstalks and then harvesting them in the autumn. I saw the care and respect they show these legumes, and learnt how – thanks to the microclimate and the soil of the area – these beans have a very thin skin and taste delicious.
Pelekanos, the local agricultural association, which is in charge of the seed selection and ripening calendar for these crops, has succeeded in having the beans classed as PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) products, and in exporting them beyond Greek borders.
Over time, this poor man’s food, with its great nutritional value, has become a star attraction in vegan restaurants. Even I cook Prespes beans now, often creating my own versions of traditional recipes.