Dried beans at a mercado in Veracruz. Photo by Maria Pagola
, of Ask Maria, in Veracruz
long with corn
and squash, beans constitute one of the three plant groups on which Mexico's indigenous
cultures are based; and as you might expect, there's a bunch of them. All the beans listed
below are picked from vines and bushes that are members of the bean family, and, except
for the first two in the list, are native American horticultural varieties belonging to
the genus Phaseolus
. The list below, and the accompanying pictures can only hint at the variety of beans found in Mexican mercados.
- Ayocote is a lima bean, Vicia faba,
ranging from very dark purple to pale purple with dark purple spots. The more general
Spanish word for any kind of lima bean is haba.
- Bayo, meaning "bay-colored," is a cream-tan
- Garbanzos, sometimes called chick-peas by us, are
cream- colored, irregularly shaped beans, Cicer arietinum,
probably native to western Asia.
- Flor de mayo, meaning "May-flowering," and Flor
de junio, meaning "June-flowering," are both cream-colored beans with
pale purple markings.
- Lentejas, or lentils, as you know, are flattish, brown
beans, Lens culinaris, originally from southern Europe.
- Peruano, meaning "Peruvian," is a
- Pinto, meaning "spotted," is a tan bean with
- Veracruz and Puebla are both black beans
sharing names with large Mexican cities.