« What ???? A large white bean in the paella ???? »
Here is the tipical reaction of the beginner who sees for the first time an original paella …
However, this bean is essential to the paella.
It is a big white bean with small red spots.
It is a shelling bean, flat and way bigger than average.
It is grown in the Valencia region, where it constitutes a fundamental component in the seasoning of rice, in particular in the Valencian paella.
The Garrofon gives a particular flavour to this one & a paella without Garrofon is not an authentic paella.
The Valencian variety with red dots, is going through a major crisis, because of its price and the competition from imported products.
If it is all white, it probably comes from Peru (but also from Ecuador or India), and will be cheaper but less tasty.
The Garrofon in the paella
You have several choices :
The Garrofon is said « Garrofò » in the Valencian Community, elsewhere we use the words « judía garrofón » or « judía de Lima » or « judia del Perú » or « Judiones »
In South American countries, they are called « frijol de media luna ».
But also « frijol de Madagascar », because it is widely grown on this island.
Other designations probably exist but its scientific name is : Phaseolus lunatus.
The history of the Garrofòn
It is now grown in the Valencian Community where it constitutes a fundamental component in the ingredients of rice dishes and more particularly in the paella.
But if the use of vegetables as basic diet can go back more than 20 000 years in some Eastern cultures, the common bean, the bean from lima (the Garrofon) and the pinto bean (pinto = dots, which gave it its name because the pod has red or pinky dots) have been grown for the first time by the first Mexican and Peruvian civilizations more than 5 000 years ago and were very popular both in Aztec and Inca cultures.
A little bit of science
Latin name : Phaseolus lunatus L. var. macrocarpus Benth. (Fabaceae) (order: Fabales)
Synonym : pois du Cap, Limabohne, Lima bean, haba lima
Origin : Spain
Description : Beautiful grain of 2,5/1,5 cm, white with brown eye, 3 or 4 by pod on vigorous plants of rapid growth and with pale green foliage. Very large flat pod.
Must be consumed very young cut or in grains.
Like all beans, the Garrofon belongs to the large legume family. It is nutritious and delicious, and is cultivated quite easily. This species is cultivated better in regions where summers are long and warm such as Valencia. The Garrofon in an element rich in energy, in fibers, in folic acid or vitamin B9 and in minerals such as potassium and iron, although its main component is complex carbs : starch.
It also provides a significant amount of plant proteins. The fiber contained supplies a great sensation of satiety, improves intestinal transit and helps reduce the blood cholesterol level.
The folic acid is a vitamin that helps in the treatment or prevention of anemia.