Working man’s beans

Reason #124: eat May 1st bean soup in great company

May 1st is a national holiday in Croatia – International Workers Day and it’s a custom to have a group outing or a picnic, cook a huge pot of bean soup and have fun. It’s an old socialist tradition that is slowly disappearing, but on Brač it’s still alive, luckily.

If you’re going to join one of these bean soup eating festivities, you can go for one of the urban, public events such as the one in Supetar where you could be served by the cool new mayor Ivana Marković…

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Photo source: Ivana Marković FB page

… or you can go old-school and have a picnic at 600 m above sea level, up on the Vidova gora mountain, with the great folks from the “Profunda” hiking club.

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Master Chef stirring the meat and the beans: Jurica a.k.a. “Lola”

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The line forms quickly :)

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The trick is to scoop out your ideal proportion of soup, beans, sausages and meat. 

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Second helpings are not at all frowned upon, but some room should be left for the dessert. Great news, there’s always dessert in Croatia :)

The hardest part of a May 1st outing is getting back home when you’re completely stuffed and relaxed. Fortunately, when you’re at Vidova gora you can always say: “It’s all down hill from here”.

Pašta fažol

Reason #50: a hearty, traditional bean and pasta meal

One of my favorite “basic” meals from Bračka cuisine. Pašta fažol (pashta fah-joel) can be made with different kinds of pasta (spaghetti, penne, subiotti, pipe, etc.), depending on what you like.

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This is a more soupy version of Pašta fažol, with spaghetti and without any meat. Beacause that’s how I like it :)

Fažol is the Dalmatian dialect word for beans and like many words in our dialect vocabulary, it comes from Italian: fagioli.

My mom says Pašta fažol has traditionally been a poor man’s meal, because beans were cheap back then and the wealthy could afford more fancy food. Plus, the beans would make them fart and that wouldn’t be classy :)

These days you can just buy canned beans, but the proper way to do it is to buy dried beans and soak them over night.

The type of bean is runner bean (šareni grah) from Central and South America.

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Like nearly any Dalmatian meal, you’ll base this on olive oil, onions, garlic and parsley. You can also fry a spoonful of flour to thicken the whole thing. Then add water and the beans.

The cooking will depend on how old the dried beans are. Anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours. It’s best to use a pressure cooker to shorten this process.

It’s best to cook the pasta separately so you don’t overcook it. Put it aside and just add when the beans are completely cooked.

You can add cured meats for flavor.

My mom will add a bit of concentrated tomato paste (konšerva) for color. I don’t.

Don’t forget a couple of bay leaves when you start cooking, so you …. you know…. keep things more quiet “downstairs” later on ;)

Prijatno!

Beans ❤ Bay leaf

Reason #19: pick some bay leaves and de-gas your beans

Bay leaf is very common here on Brač. Beans and lentils are also a common food here. You might already know this, but if you put the two together you’re gas free!

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Pick the leaves. Leave them in the open to dry (spread on a shelf in the pantry, for example). Put one or two in the pot when you cook your beans. That’s it!

On Brač you can either grow your own, pick them in the wild, or get them from a neighbor’s bush. Just make sure that, like with anything, the neighbor is ok with this ;).

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