I have had an outspoken love affair with black beans ever since I lived in Mexico, but lately it's been more of a long distance relationship. They're one of a few main factors contributing to my most excessive weight gain ever (not even in any of my three pregnancies did I carry as much weight as I put on over there), but usually they tend to get all the blame. I conveniently ignore that I was also addicted to a certain starter labelled Mexican rice (which is nothing but a very attractive name for a gruesome concoction of rice with a sliced banana and a generous helping of mayo), made sneaky trips to the kitchen at least once an hour to indulge in a naughty snack of tortilla toasted directly over the gas stove, spread with (again!) mayo and about half a mashed avocado, and just generally was far too liberal with my daily calorie allowance under the pretext that I am not going to be able to enjoy this food forever and must take advantage of it while I can. I can always lose weight when I am dead, right?
If black beans weren't so hard to come by, I would probably still nurse a few extra pounds (read: stone) from way back when, but they are elusive little fellows. For years and years I imported frijoles negros refritos from a Mexican store in Austria, who actually got them from a wholesaler in Barcelona, who in turn... every attempt to make my own has ended in disaster because the beans I was searching for high and low must have been centuries old and never softened, not even after days of pre-soaking and cooking. But I decided to give it another go for Jeanne's edition of "Waiter! There's something in my... PULSES" and tried a frijoles kit from Cool Chile that had been sitting in my cupboard for a few months now, always too nervous to try it out.
And this time, I was rewarded. For once, I didn't actually give into my craving of frijoles refritos with tone of melted cheese on top and opted for a recipe of a young Austrian chef who's finding fame in New York (see a previously tested recipe for scallop ceviche with strawberries and green chile). As usual, I have liberally adapted the recipe, but the essence remains the same: a gloriously comforting soup of black beans with some crab meat and and hint of spice, a sprinkle of lime and some flatbread. And if you (like a certain friend of ours) are afraid that beans might give you flatulence, use a favourite trick of mine I learnt in Mexico: cook the beans with epazote, a dried herb that is also available through Cool Chile - the taste is similar to marjoram and it will spare you any embarrassing moments, allowing you to enjoy your favourite indulgence AND you get to keep all your friends close ;-)