FLAKED NEW ENGLAND COD TARBAIS BEANS, CHORIZO, ALMOND CLOUD
RISING ELOQUENTLY over a round hill surrounded by a cloud of Marcona almond foam, the ubiquitous cod is elevated to new heights. Though the Tarbais bean, whole and pureed, constitutes the lower layer of the dish, it doesn’t play the supporting role. In fact, the Tarbais bean is our star.
First brought back to Europe from the New World by Christopher Columbus, the bean quickly became a reliable staple for the waves of frequently famished populations. It was during the eighteenth century that it flourished in the foothills of the Pyrénées in southwest France, winding along the corn stalks near the city of Tarbes. Imagine, in 1881 the region produced more than six million pounds of Tarbais beans!
With the introduction of more intensive mechanical agriculture in the 1950s, the cultivation of the bean, which has to be picked by hand, diminished greatly, but gourmand farmers always kept a few furrows for their own use. We had to wait until 1986, when a group of farmers met in Tarbes with a local agricultural adviser. Brainstorming about their difficulties, they decided to reintroduce their beloved Tarbais bean to the world, positioning it as an artisanal and cultural delicacy.