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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fava Beans, Purim, Rosh Hashanna, and the Dangers of Crock Pot Cholent

I     What are Pullin?
We were learning the Mishna in Shabbos in Hamotzi (76b) that talks about minimum amounts that would trigger a korban for carrying on Shabbos.  The Mishna says that only the edible parts of fruits count toward the shiur/volume.  Example- עדשים אין פולין לא והתניא ר' יהודה אומר חוץ מקליפי פולין ועדשים לא קשיא הא בחדתי הא בעתיקי עתיקי מ"ט לא אמר ר' אבהו מפני שנראין כזבובין בקערה - Rav Yehuda says that if you carry lentils, whose peel is generally not eaten, the peel doesn't count.  The Gemara asks that he should have mentioned Pullin, too, because Rav Yehuda in the Braisa does mention Pullin together with Adashim.  The Gemara answers that it depends on whether they're new or old.

So I told the Shiur that in Arabic, Fava beans are called Ful.  So what we call Pul, Pul Hamitzri, or Pul Halavan, and so forth, is Ful, a very common food in Egypt and no doubt all over the area.  Unfortunately, almost nobody in my shiur ever heard of Fava beans, so I brought a can in to the shiur.

If you'll check  online here and here, you'll see that dried Fava/Broad beans are often peeled before eating because their skin is leathery and tasteless, but young Favas can be eaten as is, precisely as the Gemara reports.  I don't know what the Gemara means by looking like flies.  It's probably an idiom, like אוכל קורצה (Gittin 55b, Onkelos Vayikra 19:16, Daniel 3:8).

II     Fava Beans and Purim
In our house, Fava beans were an annual Purim food.  My mother soaked big pans of Fava beans and Chickpeas overnight, cooked them, and wrapped a handful in Saran Wrap and sent them out with the Shalach Manos.  She says that everyone did this in her part of Litteh.  What we call Fava beans and Chickpeas, they called Bubb and Nahit.  Bubb is to Bebblach, regular beans, as Moid is to Meidel, because Fava beans are much bigger than other beans.  Nahit was the local word for Chickpeas (I was just at the local ethnic fruit and veg store, and saw a bag of Chickpeas labeled Nohut; I think it was from Turkey.  )  The Minhag probably doesn't exist any more, but maybe they still do this in South Africa.  Something to add to your Litveshe cookbooks, along with ginger and carrot things called Ingberlach (not for the faint hearted,) rock-hard Teiglach, and Shaltenosses.  
Hedonism did not make much headway in Litteh.
In any case, I found that the minhag of using Fava beans, and the name Bub, is mentioned here, in the second column on page 191.  (This link is to Gil Marks' Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, a thorough and engaging compendium that I found particularly interesting in its tracing of similar dishes in disparate communities.)  He also says they used to serve them at Shalom Zachars.  And he also notes that their use has practically disappeared among Ashkenazim.

Eli, in the comments, tells us that in Bnei Brak, Ful is still sold every erev Shabbos, and more for Purim, so apparently the minhag does still exist.  He also sent a link that tells us that the Chasam Sofer used to have Ful cooked with honey at the meal after Taanis Esther.   My initial reaction was that beans and honey are an odd combination, but I realized that Heinz sells millions of cans of baked beans every month, and that's essentially what they are.

III     Fava Beans and Kapparos
I would like to add that Rashi in Shabbos 81b brings an old minhag from the Teshuvas HaGeonim that people would plant a fava bean- pul hamitzri- in a pot for each child (why only children?) in their household 15 or 22 (what does 15 or 22 mean?) days before Rosh Hashanna, and they would use it for Kapparos, and then toss the pot and the bean plant into a river.  The similarity to the British slang term tosspot is just an entertaining accident.

 ובתשובת הגאונים מצאתי שעושין חותלות מכפות תמרים וממלאין אותם עפר וזבל בהמה וכ"ב או ט"ו יום לפני ר"ה 
עושין כל אחד ואחד לשם כל קטן וקטנה שבבית וזורעים לתוכן פול המצרי או קיטנית וקורין לו פורפיסא וצומח ובערב ר"ה נוטל כל אחד שלו ומחזירו סביבות ראשו שבעה פעמים ואומר זה תחת זה וזה חליפתי וזה תמורתי ומשליכו לנהר:

IV     The Danger that Lurks in Crock-Pot Cholent
Fava Beans are pretty safe, unless, of course, you suffer from Favism, in which case they can be deadly (the incidence of this or a similar syndrome varies from 0.1% in Germanic/Slavic/Baltic types to 50% in Kurdish Jews.  So don't serve Pullin to Kurdish Jews.)  But many of us are unaware of the serious danger of other beans, primarily kidney beans.  Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the dangers of kidney beans:

The toxic compound phytohaemagglutinin, a lectin, is present in many common bean varieties, but is especially concentrated in red kidney beans. White kidney beans contain about a third as much toxin as the red variety; broad beans (Vicia faba) contain 5 to 10% as much as red kidney beans.[3]Phytohaemagglutinin can be deactivated by boiling beans for ten minutes; the ten minutes at boiling point (100 °C (212 °F)) are sufficient to degrade the toxin, but not to cook the beans. For dry beans, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also recommends an initial soak of at least 5 hours in water, which should then be discarded.[3]If the beans are cooked at a temperature below boiling (without a preliminary boil), as in a slow cooker, the toxic effect of haemagglutinin is increased: beans cooked at 80 °C (176 °F) are reported to be up five times as toxic as raw beans.[3] Outbreaks of poisoning have been associated with cooking kidney beans in slow cookers.[3]The primary symptoms of phytohaemagglutinin poisoning are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Onset is from one to three hours after consumption of improperly prepared beans, and symptoms typically resolve within a few hours.[3] Consumption of as few as four or five raw, soaked kidney beans can cause symptoms.[3]Beans are high in purines, which are metabolized to uric acid. Uric acid is not a toxin as such, but may promote the development or exacerbation of gout. For this reason, persons with gout are often advised to limit their consumption of beans.[4]

To underline this issue, here is what the FDA has to say about it:
The onset time from consumption of raw or undercooked kidney beans to symptoms varies from between 1 to 3 hours. Onset is usually marked by extreme nausea, followed by vomiting, which may be very severe. Diarrhea develops somewhat later (from one to a few hours), and some persons report abdominal pain. Some persons have been hospitalized, but recovery is usually rapid (3 - 4 h after onset of symptoms) and spontaneous
Phytohaemagglutinin, the presumed toxic agent, is found in many species of beans, but it is in highest concentration in red kidney beans (Phaseolus vulgaris). The unit of toxin measure is the hemagglutinating unit (hau). Raw kidney beans contain from 20,000 to 70,000 hau, while fully cooked beans contain from 200 to 400 hau. White kidney beans, another variety of Phaseolus vulgaris, contain about one-third the amount of toxin as the red variety; broad beans (Vicia faba) contain 5 to 10% the amount that red kidney beans contain.The syndrome is usually caused by the ingestion of raw, soaked kidney beans, either alone or in salads or casseroles. As few as four or five raw beans can trigger symptoms. Several outbreaks have been associated with "slow cookers" or crock pots, or in casseroles which had not reached a high enough internal temperature to destroy the glycoprotein lectin. It has been shown that heating to 80°C may potentiate the toxicity five-fold, so that these beans are more toxic than if eaten raw. In studies of casseroles cooked in slow cookers, internal temperatures often did not exceed 75°C.

Mussar Haskeil:

  • Don't serve Pullin to Kurdish Jews.
  • If you make your cholent in a crock pot, and you use kidney beans, you should first boil it for ten minutes.  I know it sounds absurd, but why would you want to be ממשכן yourself when the FDA says it's a real issue?


great Unknown said...

Of course on Purim many people fry their brains, and Fava beans are traditionally served with fried brains.

Eli said...

It comes from the Rema (OC 695)
י"א שיש לאכול מאכל זרעונים בפורים זכר לזרעונים שאכל דניאל וחביריו בבבל
and it's quite widespread in EY - one often sees Arbes and the like as part of Mishloach Manot.

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Arbes, yes. But do you do Ful HaMitzri?

Eli said...

Ful too. You can find it in BB delis every Friday, but more before Purim.

See here that the ChT"S used to eat honey flavored Ful on Purim. I prefer the salt and pepper version. Also he used to eat it Purim night (makes sense, as it should be connected with Taanis Ester more than Purim).

LondonMale said...

Who is/was ChT"S?

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

London- Eli is an Israeli, so that would be the Chatam Sofer, AKA the Chasam Sofer. I updated the post to mention that minhag.