The beans in this recipe are native to South America and didn’t reach Anatolia until the eighteenth century. But they quickly became a staple food.
Stewed white beans in tomato sauce is the cheapest and most popular snack in lokantas throughout Turkey, and generally served with rice and pickles.
Back in 1960, a political columnist named Çetin Altan kept having his columns banned or heavily censored by the government. In exasperation, he finally began a column with the words ‘Let’s talk about the benefits of white beans’. That phrase has become a kind of code to signal when a journalist is being censored.
Don’t try to rush this preparation. If you don’t soak the beans overnight and change the water several times, be prepared for digestive difficulties.