Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thousand Year Old Beans

Three, Steamed

A thousand years ago, the Hohokam irrigated this desert valley by digging canals outwards from the river, and planting plots of drought-tolerant vegetables that they watered whenever possible, which sometimes was not very often. This morning, I cycled through an area known to have been one of their stomping grounds, west from the Pueblo Grande Museum (under appreciated and under visited, in my book) to downtown, to go to the Phoenix Public Market in search of tepary beans, which was one of the crops grown by those early irrigation specialists. Some of today's SRP canals follow the same course as the canals dug by the Hohokam, by the way.
Market Bikes

I didn't find the teparies right away, but that was fine, since the search allowed me to see most of the stands at the market. I picked up some chocolate chip cookies made with mesquite flour (another southwest bean product) from Adge's Urban Farm, ate a gyro platter with fresh tabouli and garlic-rich tzatziki sauce, and bought some grass-fed all natural buffalo patties from Arizona Buffalo Company. As I browsed the delicious local produce, I sipped a triple espresso from the coffee shop inside the market. It's my kind of place, where people take the time to stop and talk to one another, where strangers invite you to pet their dogs, and notice things like that you rode your bike there, and ask questions like how far, how was the ride, what kind of bike is that, and so on.

    Who's a Good Boy?

I found the tepary beans inside, after asking the extraordinarily informative woman at the information desk where they might be. I bought a bag of white and a bag of black, and I plan to slow-cook them with onions, garlic, cumin, pepper, with fresh cilantro and some sour cream at the end. I bet they'll turn out OK that way. :)
Obligatory Westward Ho Shot

It was a lovely ride downtown this morning. Cyclists are always understandably bagging on drivers, but I have to say, I encountered some extraordinarily polite and accommodating drivers on the streets of Phoenix this morning. Through about twenty miles of urban street riding, I took the lane many times, and in every case was not crowded or honked at. And when the light rail boffins include in their designs and constructions bike lanes like the ones below, with signage and signals that detect bikes, life is pretty good. Thank you, light rail boffins! Get up. Go ride.
Almost Separate Bike Lanes


  1. oh that bean machine talks to me... i think i like coffee a bit too much h eheee
    i have never been to phoenix. but i like the sound of you staying positive " I encountered some extraordinarily polite and accommodating drivers on the streets of Phoenix this morning."
    im liking this!

  2. meli the politeness of some of the drivers is a bit overwhelming...waving me thru intersections, backing up so I can pass. Thx peeple! Maybe it's making eye contact. Or maybe they see I'm not in any hurry usually. Tho the person who stopped in the middle of a roundabout to let me go was too much :)

  3. Hey, that's my bike! That was a nice ride: Tempe to the market via the Grand Canal, then to Baker Brothers for some plants. Back to Tempe via the old Cross Cut to Oak and then through Papago Park to Mill. I have to agree with you about Pueblo Grande being under appreciated, it seems that all of the antiquities in the Valley are forgotten. One of my favorites is the Park of the Canals in Mesa, just north of the Southern Canal, which I've always had to myself when I'm there.

  4. mseintempe I think that was a day when I was toying with the idea of riding with TBAG up to the market from Tempe, but I just couldn't get myself up early enough on a Saturday morning to do day though, once day...I need to check out Park of the Canals in Mesa, perhaps on a Light Rail/Bicycle mixed mode day.


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