Habas for homely Spanish comfort food

Every country has its comfort food. A shepherd’s pie with creamy, soft mashed potato, a good old chicken and leek pie lifted from the oven with wonky pastry and juices everywhere, or a bowl of steaming Irish stew fit for a soft day.

For us here in the Alpujarra region of Spain, it’s a springtime thing, and the arrival of the first carrier bag of crackingly fresh habas kindly offered by our neighbours, who grow the stuff on a Jack and the Beanstalk scale.

Usually with a few fresh pea-pods thrown in, I open the bag with pleasure, and we sit side by side, our backs warmed by the sunshine, podding and separating the little green jewels from their furred homes. The peas are popped into our mouths as we go, the habas mostly make it to the colander.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Habas con Jamón

Heat some Olive Oil. Gently sautée some finely chopped onion and garlic. Add some Jamón offcuts, or a packet of Jamón tacos to the pan to fill the kitchen and the street with a mouthwatering scent. A splash of white wine or that Fino in the fridge door added to sizzle. Add the newly liberated habas, a litre of stock, and simmer, covered, until the sauce is thick and silky, and one testing taste leads to another. Add freshly milled pepper but no salt. Hey, lunch is ready, did you get the bread? A slather of salty butter and we’re ready to eat! Sit down there, won’t you?…

Waiter, there’s a snot in my milkshake…

Love the pig!

Love the pig!

Well, you just never know, do you?

This Horse-y hoo ha that has smothered the news lately makes you think. Think about what you eat, because after all, we are what we eat. Simple.

Cheap meat equals cheap content, and ambiguity – where did it come from? How many air miles are on it? How fresh is it?  And now….WHAT is it?

We’ve been to France, we’ve probably eaten horse, that’s not the argument really.  It’s knowing we’re eating it, and being happy about it.

Here in the Alpujarras, we wince at the pig being killed at Matanza – but enjoy the chorizo, morcilla, longaniza, and other tasty porcine entrails – we know where it’s from.

The wine we drink is the one from the grapes we harvested, to help our neighbour. No fish guts, no nasty preservatives.

Our olive oil is first press, green, from Carolina, I can point you out her trees close to Torviscon.

Our bread is freshly baked over wood, daily. Sometimes it would be nice to have something different, but that’s what the Panadero bakes.

We could buy all these things in Dia, or Aldi – cheaper, but inferior.

Next time you’re on your dwindling UK high street – doesn’t matter where, they all look the same –  then pass by the growing number of charity shops and betting shops – seek out your local butcher or baker – and do yourself – and your digestion – a favour.

Sunday Lunch

…with friends. An invite to Sunday Lunch here in Las Alpujarras is less of a Roast Beef affair and more of a trip to a Bodega, tasting the new wine….

and an enormous bubbling pan of Arroz.

A sort of  Paella with more liquid, crab, elvers, prawns, mussels, and squid compete with garlic, onions, vibrant peppers and golden saffron.

People drift in and out, a glass and a plate always proffered, plates of olives, capers, chorizo and cheese for a long sobre mesa first course…Rosario cooks the best Arroz…who would want Bisto when you can have this?!

serving up