We true-blue Americans don’t take much notice of beans. They come out of a can and are only as good as the stuff that’s in there covering up what little flavor they have. You like spicy tomato sauced beans, or smoky baked beans, well fine, there’s a can for you somewhere. But hardly anyone goes nuts over a type of bean, and even fewer know where the beans they’re eating come from or care.
Not here in the Lunigiana. We have Bigliolo Beans. They’re known as the best. Really, I’ve heard this from just about everyone.
But now I know. It’s fall, the bean harvest is history, and we’ve just attended the Bigliolo Bean Festival. Do not snicker. I heard you snicker. This is important. We almost didn’t get in because we hadn’t reserved a seat at this annual event. The line to buy lunch was way out the door. Every seat was taken. We had to park a half kilometer out of town even.
When we finally snagged a table with some other nice folks, I had minestrone with some of those fine Bigliolo Beans. Then I had a second course of beans, fagioli in umido con cotechino. Martha had them with just a drizzle of very fine olive oil. Mmmm.
What makes them so good? Well according to the part of the literature I can read, it’s because of the favorable conditions for beans you find in Bigliolo; the rich, alluvial soil, the south oriented valley Bigliolo finds itself in, and the well drained soil poor in calcium.
Even the big pasta company Barilla mentions Bigliolo beans:
The skin on Bigliolo beans is very thin, almost invisible, and the beans themselves are very sweet and tender. This festival, which has attracted the attention of gourmets, helped encourage farmers to continue growing this bean.
So there’s more about beans than you ever wanted to know, eh?