Boliches de Embún
Boliches de EmbúnIn the region of Embún, located in northwestern Spain on the left bank of the river Aragon Subordán, boliches beans have been cultivated for 400 years. Boliches de Embún are round, very soft, and exquisitely tasty varieties of legumes. Currently, five varieties are cultivated: white, black, coloraos, yellow and careta. Their cultivation process is of the traditional, natural, and artisanal nature, using sheep manure and irrigation from the waters of the river Aragon Subordán. They are grown from June to September, and production is closely linked to the weather. During cultivation, modern techniques such as drip irrigation and cotton or plastic mesh trellises are used. Drip irrigation is used to save water while trellises are used to avoid the breakage of stems. Flowering begins in July and can extend all the way to October. From late August to early October, the pods are collected manually. The pods are dried in the sun for a few hours until the pods open. Then, they are fanned until the shell separates from the pods. They are picked by hand, one by one, before they are considered suitable for packaging or cooking. Several centuries ago boliches were grown in large enough quantities to be sold in the area, in the village fairs of the neighboring valleys; but the biggest market was from transit between Europe and the Peninsula. Armies, Kings, and travelers of all sorts stopped to shop at the Embún markets, in addition to satisfying their hunger with pots of ‘boliches with leftover pig’ purchased from local farmers.
Recently, cultivation of boliches has been mostly limited to cultivation by families for home consumption. Since 2000, though, commercial growing and sales of the legumes has restarted in the area. Because the crop requires great care and manual labor during harvest, its production is limited. Although boliches are grown in many parts of Spain, the type of soil, irrigation water and the microclimate of the valley contribute very much to the unique quality of Embún boliches.