Menu One

Favas and Other Harbingers

So strange, isn’t it, the power of food memories. A simple salad of fava beans is always magical and exciting to me. I first encountered it in Spain, in a well-known Catalan restaurant not far from the Dalí Museum. I had barely taken my seat when a torrential rainstorm put out the power in the entire village of Figueres. Sitting in the blacked-out restaurant seemed appropriately Dalíesque. My day had already been slightly surreal. I’d traveled to Figueres in a ghostly empty third-class train with dusty red-velvet seats and tattered lace curtains. There were no other passengers, nor did I see a conductor. I wondered if there was even a driver. I spent the day among Dalí’s giant eyeballs, bizarre dioramas, and weird self-portraits. Now the artist seemed to be orchestrating my dinner with thunder and lightning—his kind of drama. The waiters calmly went about lighting lanterns and candles, and the place became eerily, wonderfully quiet, without the hum of generators or any equipment. When it was set before me by candlelight, that simple bean salad—a combination of favas, mint, good olive oil, and excellent Spanish ham—symbolized the whole experience. It still does.

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