Lima Bean Soup
This Zuppa di Fagiolane recipe is from my mother, Giuseppina Zaccaro, born in Asti in 1902. It coincides with that of my mother-in-law, Dora de Ayala, born in Lima in 1911. They are neighbors now at the Italian Cemetery in Colma, CA. So maybe it is that Lima Bean Soup is universal…
(INTERESTING FOLLOW-UP ARTICLE ON THIS RECIPE)
THE ANCIENT & EXALTED HISTORY OF LIMA BEANS
Named for the city where the Spaniards first found it, the lima is one of the oldest beans to come out of the Americas, with remains dating from 6000 to 5000 BC. Scientists recognize two main branches of the genus domesticated in Latin America. The Central American types are small, while the South American beans consumed in ancient Peru are of the heftier variety we know today as lima beans.
On the expressive pottery of the Mochica, a people who lived and thrived in the coastal valleys of northern Peru on the eve of the 15th-century Inca conquest is a painted record of their daily lives and toils, the symbols they held dear and even the foods they ate, most noticeably the lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus), a distinctive relative of the common bean.
The pots with lima bean designs are intriguing: some of the beans are anthropomorphic, painted with faces and fitted with legs and feet. It is believed these symbolize messengers or warriors. In some pots, symmetrical rows of lima beans blanket the whole surface. Preliminary research confirmed that lima beans were mostly consumed by the ruling elite. It seems that such a distinction was also prevalent among the Inca. Another theory is that the lima bean
designs are ideographs, a type of proto-writing, which reinforces its status as an elite food charged with symbolic meaning.
Another recipe, attesting to the influence of 19th-century Italian settlers in Peru is Dried Lima Bean Puree with Parmigiano
Adapted from Marciel E. Presilla, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, July 11, 2007.