There are 400 types of beans in the world. Some of them are what are called cultivars, a new word for me. The Basque bean is a cultivar, a plant variety that has been bred for a particular culture. The Basques of Spain and France are a particular culture, and Ruth and I dote on Basque beans. Over time they have been called Alavans or Tolosa Calubias.
I have seen Tolosa Calubias on bags of Basque beans that we have bought in Boise and so assume that, although they began as a type of pinto bean, the Basques developed a unique type of bean, a real cultivar, over time and gave it a new name. Ruth & I first bought Basque beans in the Basque Museum in Boise, ID. We have purchased their beans several times over the years and love cooking and eating them. They have a unique taste.
Now we have tried Tepary beans. They are the Native American beans we bought in Arizona. Teparys were once a wild species growing in the Sonoran Desert. They are said to be the world’s most drought tolerant beans. Although they do not have a totally different taste from the common beans we are used to, the Teparys we tasted are said to be higher in fiber and protein than other beans. We had a choice of buying either white or brown Teparys and randomly selected the darker beans to cook and eat. The white variety are said to be sweeter, and the brown ones are thought to be nuttier. I have not tasted the white ones, but I would describe the browns as having a typical bean taste. Black Teparys are said to be both rare and recent. They are available somewhere, but I have never seen them. Ramona Farms is a good source for Teparys. Ruth has compared costs and judged them fairly priced on the Ramona Farms website if you want to try them.
The next bean we are interested in trying are called Adzukis. They are widely available in Japan but originated in China. These beans are popular in Asian cooking in general. They are apparently not the same as the red beans typically found in American supermarkets. Adzukis are commonly used in Asian cultures in desserts. They
are said to be an excellent source of protein and a weight loss aid. They seem to have originated in the Himalayas. Boiled, sweetened, and pounded into paste, Adzuki beans are used to make many desserts, including a type of ice cream. They are cooked without the typical soaking and are said to go well with brown rice and vegetables. They are said to have a mild and nutty taste and are, Asians believe, an incredible superfood.
I will provide the bean soup recipe that Ruth & I invented using Tepary beans if there is a demand for it, so let me know if you want to take a look at it.