Have you ever sat down to a nice meal where favas played a starring role? How about chestnuts? Enjoyed a course where the tiny tomatoes are peeled? Grapes? Or the clincher: turned potatoes, artichokes, carrots?
Ever wonder about who preps those items? Who coerces each fava bean from it's protective fuzzy womb, peels it, de-germs it? I do. Because at times it has been me, or my friends. Using a tiny knife to scrape out all the fuzz from the wrinkles of chestnuts. Peeling marble sized tomatoes. Making citrus brunoise.
In my own home kitchen these items are only worth it for those I love. Or if I have company to help with the prep. And long languid time.
The person who introduced me to eating raw artichokes, an Italian gentleman friends with my boss at the time, told me in no uncertain terms that Americans are frightened of the taste of bitter, hence the ubiquitous peeling of favas.
I prepare my favas and enjoy them most the way I prepped and ate them first, at LuLu almost 15 years ago.
Being the cucumber seed loving radical cook that I am, I do not blanch my favas before I peel them. With a paring knife I make a small cut on the side of the bean, peeling away the outer layer. I heat up a saute pan, add a splash of olive oil and cook garlic, or in yesterday's case, green garlic, until golden. I pull this out and reheat the pan until much hotter, sauteing the favas until the they are cooked and slightly caramelized. In a bowl I mix the olive oil garlic mixture with the hot favas and season lightly with coarse sea salt such as sel gris.
At the beginning of the legume's season they can fool you into thinking they're peas because of their green sweetness. If you would like to eat them "raw" it is best to bring a pot of cold water to boil and drop the unpeeled favas in, pulling them out quickly and setting them in a bowl of ice water. It will be easy to peel the outer skin, releasing the inner tender pea-bean.
The truth is out. I love cucumber seeds. I don't blanch my favas. I cook garlic until golden. I like it crunchy and I even own a garlic press. I use extra virgin olive oil for sauteing. On the smaller favas I don't peel them at all-- testing my American taste buds with bitter teases.
It's ok, after a bite or two I think you'll be able to forgive me.