Black Beans and Sweet Memories of Travel

Top: dried avocado leaves, right: toasted ground black beans and left: ground avocado leaves

It was quiet that morning except for what sounded like a beaded curtain blowing in the breeze. The place was Santiago Apoala, north of Oaxaca City, a fairly remote village, perched 1,970 meters above sea level in the Mixteca high sierra.

While waiting for breakfast of scrambled eggs mixed with the red flowers of the colorin tree, picked just outside the hostel, I went to investigate the sound.
Two straw mats were laid out on a dirt road and a group of people were sifting their harvest of black beans. Because of the strong wind, the villagers scooped the beans and let them fall, allowing little bits of dried straw or other debris to blow away. No one was saying anything. Just the rhythmic sound of the beans falling, over and over again, like a beaded curtain.
In Teotitlan del Valle, just outside of Oaxaca City, black beans are toasted and ground by hand on a volcanic stone metate. The resulting powder is mixed with water and spread on freshly made (also by hand) tlayudas as part of a healthy breakfast.
In Xalapa, Veracruz, tiny bags of ground avocado leaves are sold in the markets for around 20 cents. Bright green in colour, its anisey fragrance is added to stewed black beans.
In many regions of Mexico, whole avocado leaves are toasted and added to black beans and other dishes.
Today, black beans are cooking on my stove. And while the beans cook and I reflect over delicious memories, the toasted, ground black beans will be my breakfast spread over a hot corn tortilla.

One Response to “Black Beans and Sweet Memories of Travel”

  1. Linda Makiej says:

    I love black beans! Thanks for posting this!

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