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Tuesday, August 30, 2011


“Thanks to the grasspea,”
aquatint print by Goya showing the use of grasspea as a famine food but also highlighting its effects (crippled woman lying on the floor)
Photo by: w apedia.mobi
alverjón, chícharos, guijas, titos, L. Latyrus sativus, Fr. lentille d’espagne, gesse des bois, Eng. grass pea or chickling, a vetch. The peas are eatable but difficult to digest. Some eat this legume after boiling and frying it in oil with pork liver. It has been cultivated in arid and dry places in North Africa, India and southern Europe, except Almeria, but especially in the province of Ciudad Real during the Middle Ages. Like all legumes, it is planted after wheat. It is nutritive and consumed like fava beans and chickpeas in pottages and other dishes. The peas are ground into flour and used to make gachas for porridge or fried like breadcrumbs (migas). Traditionally, the gachas mentioned in Don Quijote are served for lunch during the slaughter even today especially in La Mancha. Avenzoar, however, warned that it can be harmful. If consumed frequently one’s muscles weaken. During famines, a constant diet of only grass peas can lead to lathyrism. Basically, this is a Vitamin A deficiency causing pain radiating to the legs, spasmodic contractions, muscular weakness and paraplegia. This has a tendency of becoming chronic. Its was so prevalent during the famine of 1811 that there is an a,quatint print of a woman crippled by the disease by Francisco Goya in his collection of “Disasters of the War“ in the Prado Museum in Madrid. As a result of the famine the post war period in Spain between 1940 and 1943, Spaniards contracted this disease until the sale of it was prohibited in 1944. Still today, many recall that life for those suffers was worse than death. [Cervantes. 1947: Ch XVII1143; Font. Plantas. 1999:262:384; Ibn Zuhr/García Sánchez. 1992:48; Misc. Conversations. Manuel María Vías Guitián. Nov 20, 02; and Pers. Memories. Slaughters Mostoles. 2000:2001:2003]

for 4 persons

Photo by: En la ribera del Drac

8 stripes bacon (preferably from the dewlip) or 1lb or ½ k of  dewlip cubed
1 pork liver (substitute: 4 chorizo sausage links)
4 garlic cloves
6 tbsp chickpea flour
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp caraway
1 tsp ground cloves
9 tbsp water
Salt to taste
1 ½ oz or 50 gr toasted pine kernels
1 c honey

Fry bacon and chorizo. Cut garlic cloves in half and fry in the grease from the bacon and chorizo. Slice chorizo and crumble bacon into bite size peaces. Mash the garlic in a mortar.
In the same frying pan add the flour, and spices.
Slowly add water, stirring constantly. Add salt and bring to a boil. Add the chorizo and garlic cloves. Decorate with bacon bites and pine kernels and serve with honey.

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