Friday, September 3, 2010

Ful Medames: In Praise of Fava Beans, Friendship & Psychedelic Hooping

Ful medames? Foul Maddamas?
This is what I prepared for lunch today. Food fit for a peasant. Simple, tasty, filling. Frugal.
Chocolate Bete Noire for Linda Renaud's birthday!
There have been some complicatedly decadently irresistible chocolate bete noires (post TK!),
ambitious and delicious racks of lamb worthy of reverie and rant,
Ruby Grapefruit & Avocado salad
and even some royally dressed salads drizzled w/blood orange avocado balsamic vinaigrette.
Ricotta & Leek Gnocchi w/Butter, Sage, Sauteed Fava Beans & Shaved Parmesan
There have been whole sticks of unsalted butter melted in pans to the tune of crisped sage leaves and paired with equally rich and raucous ricotta & leek gnocchi w/fava beans,
Brown Derby Grapefruit Cake
or whole sticks of butter mixer-whipped to a frenzy in precise cake batters drawn from legendary L.A. eateries --  but what about the staples? What about the meals you can afford to eat -- financially, and healthily, on a more regular basis?
What about the humble lunch?
Enter the ancient Mediterranean dish:  ful medames.
That one fancy gnocchi dinner from last week yielded some leftover fava beans. Not knowing they were dried beans, more mature, not realizing how much they grew when soaked, I'd prepared what amounted to an extra potful of bursting fat beans. Skin me. Cook me. Transform me, they called out. What to do? I decided to boil then simmer them as long as it took to reduce them to a consistency I could then use for ful medames. Or was it foul maddamas?
Uninspired man
The boiling and simmering took maybe 1 1/2, almost 2 hours. Way longer than I'd anticipated. The result -- a chunky gray paste -- didn't inspire. Plus by that point it was bedtime. When are fava beans in season? I found myself craving the fresh ones. Still, I'd purchased the dried. It was time to learn how to handle beans. Or begin to learn. I would make this bean paste into something tasty. Watch me!
After researching various recipes, I plopped some in a bowl, chopped garlic, added that plus olive oil plus cumin plus a pinch of kosher salt to the mix, squeezed a half a lemon. Done. Heated up some Mediterranean flat bread in the oven. Chowed down. Not so bad. Still, it wasn't flavorful enough.
Anthony Bourdain, smoking
Next go-round, I sauteed some chopped yellow onions, added them to the impoverished (refrigerated) paste. Chopped garlic, mixed that into the paste along with olive oil (Colavita), cumin, kosher salt, juice from two lemons this time -- then added chopped tomatoes and parsley as garnish.
I'm in the midst of reading Anthony Bourdain's riveting Kitchen Confidential, and paid heed when he urged us poor homecook slobs to at least garnish. After all, wasn't eating about pleasing the eye as well as the palate? "Plating" as well as serving it forth? Now I was getting somewhere.
Flavor Flav back in the day
This time, the dish was delicious. Another level better. Next attempt, though, I would cook the beans down with garlic, onion, salt and tomatoes so there was more flavor and color in the paste itself. Then add an additional mixed-in boost, then the rest of the garnish.
Since I've been reassembling my spices after having had to dump almost 50 bottles of old, dead spices and herbs, I didn't have any cayenne (yet). I only buy spices and herbs as I need them, to avoid another disaster like a collection of bottles I never use -- and have to throw out. But the dish could stand some kick. Maybe I'll squirt in some Siracha.
It's also vegetarian, so finally I have a dish for those friends with dietary restrictions or philosophical preferences.
One dish leads to another! I love how one dish will provide inspiration for the next. You have leftover fava beans. Now what? Your eggs are going to go bad tomorrow. What can you make? Is it time to dare a quiche? A frittata? What about the wilting chives? Can you build a meal around that? Or the ripening figs? A friend promises to bring fresh pears -- your brain starts whirring about what dishes feature pears. This call to inventiveness and use of produce before it ruins keeps the momentum going.
Sandi "Sass" Schultz
And now, the blog itself seems to've reached and inspired a beautiful friend of mine, Sandi "Sass" Schultz, who used to live in Topanga Canyon,
Good Vibe Hoop Tribe (Sandi far right, next to Ana Reichenbach, founder)
was a member of the now-defunct Good Vibe Hoop Tribe (enjoy! This one captures their groovy ravy sexy Burning Man vibe Cool video Hoopalicious featuring founder Anah and here's one of a doc about the hooping scene featuring some demo vids w/Sandi and the hoop she gave me as a gift when she left Topanga The Hooping Life w/Demo Vids of Sass on Waist Hooping, Stalling & Stepping) -- and now lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa where she plays a doctor on a popular TV show,
"Binnelanders." Another avowed non-cook, or mostly non-cook, she actually shared a recipe in her recent blog entry! Enjoy her post and homage to our friendship, this blog,
Wikus of "District 9" flick w/his prawn arm gone to clear Souf Effrica of alien prawns?
and the "famous Souf Effrican icon" the wikus! I can't wait to try the recipe out, invoke Sandi's gorgeous spirit and hooping flair. In this way we can connect even across oceans and continents. Here's the link: Sandi "Sass" Schultz's F$kken Prawns
Sass, on left, w/Athena and Mutaytor on stage
I have so many vivid memories of Sandi. Deadbeat, uptight Hollywood parties which would part like the Red Sea when she entered,
Sass in ring of fire
glittering, sexy, swinging fiery lights in her signature hypnotic style -- or busting out a colored hoop, or flaming poi.
Sass in one of her inventive outfits
Her dressing me for readings and performances, pulling clothes until the whole room is piled thick as a sultan's den --
or jumping in the truck and taking a spontaneous roadtrip to Vegas.
Us rollerblading on the beach, me pumping with feral competitiveness, sweating, clumsy, barely noticing the sands, the water,
the Ferris Wheel wheeling through the sky while she glides far ahead, dancing and bopping in a sensual, easy rhythm.
Stylish and theatrical even on blades. A feast for the eyes.
Sass, herself
Or us talking the secret language of old pain, swapping tales, sipping rosehip tea at the Cafe Mimosa, her stripped bare of theatrics, flash. Unadorned, honest and beautiful --
We are at the Mondrian Hotel, sitting on the clean white bed in a suite filled with people. Anastasia's bachelorette party.
Sandi's wearing her Shakira wig, the tangled mane framing her face perfectly, she in psychedelic tights and tutu, while I'm rocking a black dress and red feather boa.
We share one lone ball of a chocolate cake from the Erotic Bakery, the cake shaped like a monstrous, chocolate-iced phallus.
A performer known for her skills sculpting potatoes into various naughty forms writhes on the carpeted floor in a special bachelorette dance, dragging two young men down there with her, men I'd recently found downstairs at the Sky Bar and invited up to supply my friend with a steady stream of eye candy.
R. Crumb brilliance
In honor of the occasion, I've boldly (for me who's a drug virgin practically) taken what I think is Ecstasy (for the first time!), but in fact will turn out to be speed (also the first time, ha, and not a good idea for me, never to be repeated),
mutating me into a raving controlling cleanfreak bitch who ends up running around the party scolding  people for I don't know what, shuttling new men in and out of our revolving door party so fast their heads spin off their necks and fly away into the hotel air like UFO's, frenetically tweezing up microscopic chocolate bits from the white upholstered furniture, floor, windowsills, guest's forearms, off their tongues, you name it, for the whole cranked-up debauched endless-night party --
Clownfish...say no more...
but that comes later. For now, all is fluid and flowy and fabulous. Slow-mo and underwater dreamy. Chocolate crumbs spill over our lips, and we are laughing, shaking the pristine white bed, the music's pulsing, someone tosses a suggestively shaped potato across the room and someone else catches it,
while one of the young boys leaps atop a white armchair and strips off his shirt, whips his belt through the air as his jeans slip down and hug his hips,
exposing the sexy crease where torso meets leg otherwise known as the Polyclitus girdle, while Sandi rests her hand on my thigh and we melt in a moment of pure being there, a radiant Wordsworthian psychedelic sunspot in time...
The Odd Couple, w/Jack Lemmon & Walter Mathau
If friendship isn't one of the most savory of all dishes, if serving forth meals either for these friends, or paying them homage with a shared recipe, an invoked spirit, isn't the missing spice the ultimate hooping groove the necessary musical note that will bring a dish to flavorful harmony, I don't know what is.
Sass hooping in the New Year 2009 on Goa Beach, India


  1. wow, you make me sound so cool!!! only wish i could live up to such hype!!! thanks for the memories my friend, i miss you! and thanks for the link - my stats totally blew up as a result! =)
    i look forward to sharing both the same space and this new-found cooking fervor with you/

  2. What a beautiful post, friendship, and what beautiful beings (you and Sandi Sass Schultz).

    Found these sentences so gorgeous and moving:
    while Sandi rests her hand on my thigh and we melt in a moment of pure being there, a radiant Wordsworthian psychedelic sunspot in time...

    If friendship isn't one of the most savory of all dishes, if serving forth meals either for these friends, or paying them homage with a shared recipe, an invoked spirit, isn't the missing spice the ultimate hooping groove the necessary musical note that will bring a dish to flavorful harmony, I don't know what is.

    I'm going to get me a hoop this afternoon! xo

  3. The clownfish as an expression of life on speed is brilliant!

  4. How did I miss that party? Where the hell was I???

    Rachel, you are the only person I know who could be so persistent with fava beans. I would have just given up on them. Congratulations. To me they look better than they must have taste. Great photo. You've come a long way since that first post. Your blogs are not really about food but about life. And friendship. And sex!!! Thanks for sharing.