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Today we talk of Mesciua, or Mes-ciüa (local dialect for “mixture”) a dish born in the port of La Spezia. Some say that the dish was invented in a day of lean with not enough beans for a legumes based meal, or wheat to make bread; then it was decided to mix the remains of both, with the important addition of chick peas.
Poor dish of the La Spezia tradition, the loved Mesciua, served in the most typical local restaurant, was originated from the art of getting by in a difficult period, from the use of mixing legumes collected on the docks by the wives of workers who were unloading the ships. The grain fallen through the fissures of the bags became the ingredients for hearty soups, that could replace meat courses. The content of the soup varied by time according to the mix found in the port of La Spezia, at the time true crossroads of trade in vegetables.
The dish can be found in all the traditional taverns, while at the central market you can buy bags with vegetables ready to be cooked, mixed in the most typical way: beans, barley or wheat and chickpeas.
For those wishing to engage in the preparation of homemade Mesciua, here is the recipe:
Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes, plus 12 hours of soaking
Ingredients for 6:
• 300 g of chickpeas
• 300 g of cannellini beans
• 100 g of barley
• baking soda
• extra virgin olive oil
Soak the beans in a bowl, covering them with warm water and a pinch of baking soda. Pour into another bowl spelled and chickpeas, cover themselves in warm water with a pinch of baking soda. Let the mix soak for at least 12 hours.
Drain chickpeas and barley for 4 hours, put them in a pot with lightly salted cold water, bring to boil for about two hours.
Cook the beans separately, after draining: in another pot as they require less cooking; in doing so, flavors of both legumes remain separated. Boil in slightly cold water for about 1 hours and 30 ‘.
Then add beans with some of their liquid to the pot with the chickpeas and barley, until you have a total of about 1 and a half liters of liquid. Salt and cook for about 15 ‘, so that the flavors can blend together. Pour the now ready mesciua into a bowl. Each diner will season its portion directly in their dish with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground pepper.