(For the month of July, Liezel will be writing from and about the sunny city of Valencia, Spain.)
I think my father-in-law is pretty cool. In fact, for a girl that is curious and enthusiastic about food, I definitely married into the right family. He is an early riser and while the rest of the household is in dreamland, he takes his daily walk around our pueblo which is called Bonrepòs i Mirambell. Our town is situated about 20 minutes outside the center of Valencia and is surrounded by acres and acres of vegetation. My husband’s town is quite the contrast to the concrete sidewalks of my youth. It’s fascinatingly green and earthy, but the occasional whiff of fertilizer seeping through our windows can make this NYC native gag.
When mi suegro returns from his walks, he regularly comes back with a bounty of vegetables and fruits that were grown in the nearby fields. When asked where he got them from, he grins and says “amigos” and proceeds to tell me stories about his friends and their farms. Out of curiosity, I asked to tag along on one of his walks to find out exactly where our food was coming from. He happily agreed to show me around el campo.
With hats to protect us from the sun’s hot rays, my father-in-law led the way. As we passed through various fields, he proudly pointed out every type of plant surrounding us. We stopped at la casita of Tio Pepe, who as my father-in-law likes to put it, is familia. By day, Tio Pepe is an auto mechanic who owns a shop in town, but his heart is in el campo. He spends every free minute out in the fields. The “garden” he tends to is the size of a basketball court and has been in his family for many generations. Before we headed out to the field, Tio Pepe shoved a bag in mi suegro’s hand and told us we could take home anything we fancied. This is common practice with anyone who stops by and if you can’t drop by, he will bring a goody box of his farmed goods to your home. The fruits/veggies of his labor are not for sale, instead he generously nourishes his friends and family with the abundance of produce he cultivates. It’s wonderful to have friends in all the right farms!
In the orchard there were trees bearing olives, peaches, plums, apples and cherries. Watermelons and honeydew were also maturing in full force. In the vegetable patch, my father-in-law described the variety of tomatoes being farmed, then pointed out the eggplant, peppers, zucchini, pumpkins and lovely green beans. The beans reminded me of the purple carrots I received in my last order of organic veggies back in Prague. To me, the beans appeared to be spray painted with wine.
My father-in-law and I came home with plenty and decided that we would ask my mother-in-law to cook the judías verdes (green beans) to add to our lunch. Once boiled, the beans’ glossy red tones disappear. They turn back to plain old green beans that when ready to eat are deliciously tender.They can be simply dressed in olive oil and salt or with homemade mayonnaise which is how they were prepared by mi suegra.
Mahonesa Casolana (Homemade Mayonnaise)Ingredients:
One egg yolk
One cup of olive oil
Drop of vinegar
Salt to taste
With a whisk or hand blender, beat the egg yolk on high.
Add the drop of vinegar.
Continue whisking and add a drop of oil.
Wit the whisk running, slowly keep adding the oil until the mixture begins to look like mayonnaise.
When the emulsion takes place, you can then add the rest of the oil at a quicker pace.
When done, season with salt.
Makes one cup of mayonnaise and can be kept in the fridge for up to three days.
Bajoqueta amb Mahonesa (Green Beans with Homemade Mayonnaise)
1/2 bag of green beans
Wash beans, snip ends and cut in half.
Place in a pot with enough water to cover the beans.
Boil for about 20 minutes or until tender.
Then mix with enough mayonnaise, but do not drown the beans in the condiment.
Refrigerate before serving.