Fava beans, made horridly infamous by Anthony Hopkins, are called ‘broad’ beans in England. They are among the most ancient plants in cultivation. According to Wikipedia, some believe that if one carries a broad bean, one will never be without the essentials of life.
Living in London in my late 20’s, I rented what was a traditional workers cottage, known as a ‘two up two down’, with a small walled garden. I am not a gardener but I like to watch things grow and change. Amongst other ramblings, I grew herbs, roses and weeds. Each Spring I would anticipate the arrival of a small clump of wild strawberries, from which one or two sweet fruits would be gotten (to be eaten early morning alone with the sun kissing my neck), whilst the slugs took the rest. Wild garlic was prolific, the flowers so pretty and the delicate taste in salad a seasonal treat. I also grew an aggressive passion flower against a sunny wall which one year fruited a single perfect specimen. I ate the whole thing, again alone with the sun this time fading off to the evening, me greedily sucking at the flesh, supping at the juice. In these moments of aloneness and devouring I pause and experience a simplicity so satisfying I cannot help but think it makes me a better person.
One year I grew some broad beans. The plants produced few pods but what frabjous joy when they came. A whole season and I had enough beans for one single person meal. I simmered them for about 10 minutes, drained them into a dish, drizzled olive oil over the top, a grind of sea salt, black pepper and a glass of cold white wine.
All alone in my garden on a late Spring evening. The sun going down, the slugs coming out and the passion flower wafting its’ scent before bedtime.