The most universal dish of Asturias is fabada. An abundant and popular dish, source of energy above all, which has given the Principality great fame, its people part of its "big" mood and all the stomachs that host an unforgettable "fartura". At this point this information is a truism. The problem is that behind this gastronomic truth hides a huge variety of Asturian beans and an endless number of parallel plates, with thousand ingredients, and in principle lighter, that we will also try to elucidate here.
The typically Asturian fabada has a traditional strict guidelines, and is spoken of as unique and singular, sometimes without considering the other "fabistic" regional wealth, the typology of native beans that accompany as "misses" secondary to the queen of the regional recipes
Let's see. Some of the most popular varieties of Asturian beans are: roxa, or colorá (to stew); Verdina (very fashionable, small and green to eat with eels or rabbit, seafood in general or game dishes); Fabones, or beans of May; that of the kidney (to serve with vegetables); the pint, the güeyín, the amarillina, the granjilla, etc, etc.
Jovellanos, in his diaries, speaks of Asturian fabas or beans which shows that, at least since the eighteenth century, this crop was widespread throughout the Principality, already brewing the neat quantity and quality of the varieties that we find today. The one that is usually associated with the fabada proper is that of the Farm or of the Healing. But it also offers a versatile versatility in its cooking. Apart from the one accompanies the famous «compangu», this white grain bean, oblong, straight, long and flattened, large in size, is eaten with many other tasty and indigenous ingredients.
Having said that, let's focus on that masterful and specific fabada that gives prestige to the Asturian bean in general and its multiple recipes. The fabada is the dish par excellence, so excellent that sometimes it is not even accompanied by a second dish, but rather a digestive dessert. As has been said, it is made with "fabes de la granja" or "fabes de la manteca", a kind of large, soft and very thin skinned bean, so typical of Asturias that, apparently, it does not thrive in other national gardens. Some people call it a "pillow", it is buttery on the palate when it is well cooked and the previous soaking considerably increases its volume.
Although It is grown throughout the region, those of Luarca, Tineo, Cangas de Narcea, Siero, Colunga or Villaviciosa have reached a special status. The most extensive crop is located in the districts of Vegadeo, Oviedo and Gijón, and to a lesser extent in Grado or Llanes. Farmer cooperativism seems to work thanks to different initiatives such as the Fabastur Cooperative, the Fabes Villagers Association of Villaviciosa or the Fabes Producers Association of Argüelles. It has denomination of origin under the name of Faba Asturiana, with a parallel Regulatory Board to which more than 300 producers are assigned, and needless to say that, aside from being a scarce faba, it is one of the most sought after in the Spanish market.
Gastronomic Days of Les Fabes
The Food Festivals They proliferate around this queen of legumes. The Cultural Week of the Fabes, celebrated in the month of March in Villaviciosa, or the Gastronomic Festival of the Fabes de San Martín, in the month of November in Moreda (Aller); the Jornadas de les Fabes in Colunga, which take place in December and in which some Asturian of merit is awarded with the memorable «Faba de oro».
The cultivation of fabes
Until the mid-eighties of the twentieth century, the cultivation of the Asturian Faba had a low relevance, and like many other agricultural products its cultivation focused on self-consumption. The explosion of the crop is more recent, since the mid-nineties, mainly due to the crisis in other agrarian sub-sectors and the demand for this product for the hotel trade. The leap from rural culture to the restaurant dish has therefore been delayed, at least in the universalization of the quality fabada, and assumes the assumption of a long popular culture in the hamlets, including the previous processes so that the faba was ready , and that can not be underestimated. Fabes presented and presented a great sensitivity to rain, its marketing goes through overcome a major obstacle against the mother's climate that sees it born. Towards September or October the pineapples of pods are hung in the granary for several months. When they are dry, comes the always meticulous task of sharpen (remove the pods), which in past decades called an entire community in the dead of winter work. Then the beans were allowed to dry separately, loose, spread on the ground, and then it was necessary to select them and throw away the ones that had a bug or were stained. The process of an artisanal bean stew is still the same today, although there is a lack of hands in the field and collective feeling in these tasks.
Text: © Ramón Molleda for desdeasturias.com