If there is a highway that links Gluttony and Hunger, and if on that highway there is a small cafe that occupies the space halfway between Gluttony and Hunger, then on their handwritten menu would be Fuul.
As we journey out of the holiday season and the heavy eating that goes with it, the butter and cheese and paté and dips and stuffing and gravy…. not unlike the bacchanalia and feasting of Mardi Gras or Carnival and waking up to the cleansing of Ash Wednesday (or choose your own metaphor), we now look to calm foods to bring us back down to earth, foods like fuul.
Coming from the other direction on the map, fuul pacifies hunger in an elemental way.
In her book Blood, Bones & Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton writes about hunger being part of the envisioning process for her restaurant, Prune. Hunger that she experienced traveling Europe in her youth, where she was gratefully sated by the simplest of foods…things like good boiled potatoes, bread and butter.
My early years in Minneapolis I remember being hungry much of the time….being young, broke, occasionally couch-surfing, and hanging out on the West Bank. Eritreans ran the Chili Time Cafe, and printed on their menu after “Bowl of Chili” was “Fuul”. Chew and Sop, ravenously I ate my way from an empty belly to total satisfaction whenever I could scrape together $4.
Life was pretty good.
Fuul’s origins are in Egypt and northern Africa, and fava beans are the traditional ingredient. But in my current abode just outside of the middle of nowhere, there are no favas to be found. So I feed my love affair with the pinto.
Soaking the beans for at least 6 hours reduces cooking time. As does a pressure cooker—pintos cook in around 20 minutes! These are not the pressure cookers of old, like the one that exploded when my mother was cooking beans when we were in rural Mexico. This Duromatic is a whole new breed, very safe.
I think the olive oil and raw onions are crucial, and the rest are tasty add-ons. Yes, I often opt for substitutions—but not this time! It should be olive oil and raw onions.
Pinto Fuul has become one of my staples. It’s easy to cook a mound of beans, freeze them in small containers, then at any time I can have my little fuul fix.
And life is pretty good.
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: up to 2 hours for the beans
No measurements this time. Trust yourself.
Soak at least 6 hours (if possible):
Pintos in Water
Cook until soft:
Water (around 2 times the amount of soaked beans, 3 times the amount of unsoaked beans)
Add near the end of cooking time:
Taste and adjust the salt.
Spoon the pintos into individual bowls and top with:
Drizzle over everything:
Eat with a crusty White Bread, or something to mop and sop it up. I like Udi’s Gluten Free bread.
Other Tasty Toppings:
-Chopped Hard Boiled Egg
Another bowl from Elisabeth Maurland, from her early days.