First of all if you know the bean, please contact me.
I have been foraging the rainforest of Panama for quite sometimes now.
The other day I was strolling around, mending my own jungle business when I stumble upon a funky looking curly pod. Bonifacio, my companion explorer from the indigenous Gnabe tribe briefs me quickly on the tree “es como una clase de Caña Fistula” and briskly moves on! Hey wait Boni! Can you eat it? Boni knows what I’m up to and with a condescending smile tells me “NO!”
Well, do birds and monkeys eat them? “The Toucans do, I don’t know about monkeys! He replies.” Here, I have my answer if the Toucan does, then I can try. I will not die, I can get a bit sick, and I can get high.
I start collecting the pods from the ground, Boni walk back to me. “¿Que estas haciendo? I told you we don’t eat them!” Well Boni, I’m going to try. Boni doesn’t like when I do that, it stresses him out. He, somehow, feels responsible for me. I honor that, but curiosity I honor too!
I bite into the bean; it’s green, a bit juicy, sharp but slightly sweet. It’s not repulsive so that is a good start. I can’t wait to be in the kitchen to try it.
But first the pods get the photo shoot treatment for the archives. I treat it like a jewel, my yummy sweet little emerald.
Now, the boiling moment has arrived. I have told my “vecinas” and the two lady nurses at the small town hospital that I will try the beans. The first nurse is sweet; “¡No te preocupe linda, si acaso te limpiamos el estómago!” The second nurse thinks that all these gringos coming here and acting funny can’t be a good thing for the island.
I cooked the beans without the pods in boiling salty water for about 20 minutes. They are getting soft, but the chore stays crunchy. The consistence is close to the edamame. The taste is more on the snap pea side.
I have cleared my schedule and I am alone with the cats. One of my “vecina” came to look at the pot of emerald beans, she is not convinced at all. Now I’m sitting on the bed waiting for some side effects. I don’t like to not know which one, the vomiting / diarrhea, the shallow breathing / skin scratching or the psychotropic trip. I surf the web, reading and looking at random things. Also, wondering what Bonifacio is doing at this very same moment!
This is a time when I’m always strangely grateful to be able to do that, for the humans and non-humans I know. The rainforest is a very fulfilling place on all levels.
Four hours in the wait and nothing! All is good; usually if nothing happened in the first four hours it’s very unlikely that something will happened at all. It is time to start editing the photos and thinking about recipes.
It has been a good 72 hours by now…et voila!!!