The eagle bean, "Polska Fasola z Orzełkiem," or PFO for short, is a small, white bean with a distinctive feature of a natural cherry red spot shaped like an eagle, similar to the one on Poland's national emblems.
Poland's iconic eagle bean is a symbol of national pride and independence. It is a cherished and beloved symbol of Polish culture and heritage, representing the fight for freedom and self-determination that Poles have fought for centuries. The eagle bean has been used as an emblem of Poland's identity since the 13th century and is still popular today.
Let's learn about the history of this famous bean and look at how it was used in the past, how it helps your health, and what it means to Polish culture.
Introduction to Poland's Iconic Eagle Bean
The eagle bean, "Polska Fasola z Orzełkiem," or PFO for short, is a small, white bean with a distinctive feature of a natural cherry red spot shaped like an eagle, similar to the one on Poland's national emblems. It is native to Poland and has been cultivated in the country for centuries. The eagle bean is a symbol of national pride and independence, representing the fight for freedom and self-determination that Poles have waged for centuries.
The PFO bean is a type of legume that is related to the common bean. It is usually white with a unique marking in the shape of an eagle on its shell. Many of the beans have a spot that looks like a crown on an eagle, a Polish emblem.
Historical Significance of the Eagle Bean
The eagle bean has been used as an emblem of Poland's identity since the 13th century. The marking on the bean is believed to be a representation of the white-tailed eagle, which is the national bird of Poland. The eagle has been a symbol of power, strength, and freedom for hundreds of years. It has been used on coins, flags, and even the Polish coat of arms to represent the country.
The eagle bean was used as a symbol of resistance against foreign rule during the partitions of Poland in the 18th century. It was a sign of hope and national pride in times of hardship and oppression. The eagle bean also became a symbol of unity among the Polish people and was used to rally them in times of struggle.
Legend has it that the beans first appeared in Sądecczyzna, a city on the borders of eastern Poland. A few surviving memoirs, articles, and diaries report the beans were grown throughout Poland, particularly by the local aristocracy, which sought to maintain its old national customs. The Russian invaders forbade the cultivation of these beans and punished those who disobeyed.
During the partitions, especially after the failed January Uprising in 1863, these beans came to be regarded as a representation of patriotism, as people used to grow them in secret, sometimes among other plants such as potatoes, which is why the Independence beans still exist today. Cooking at least one Christmas Eve meal with eagle beans was a common way to show patriotism during that time.
Today, Independence Bean recipes are prepared on Christmas, Independence Day, and local harvest festivals, and it is expected that the beans will continue to endure in the future.
Traditional Uses of the Eagle Bean
The eagle bean has been used in various traditional recipes for centuries, such as soups and stews, and is also a popular ingredient in salads. The bean is also used to make a traditional Polish dish called "kasha," which is a porridge-like dish made with buckwheat, rye, and the eagle bean.
The bean can also be used to make a type of flour that can be used in the making of breads, pastries, and other baked goods. This flour is often used in traditional Polish recipes such as pierogi, a type of dumpling filled with a variety of fillings.
Unlike other beans, these ones have a mild flavor that makes them perfect for salads, soups, and even Red Borsch, a sour soup made of beetroot and served with small dumplings filled with cabbage and mushrooms.
Health Benefits of the Eagle Bean
The eagle bean is rich in nutrients and has a variety of health benefits. It is high in protein and fiber, which are rich sources of magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus. The bean is also a good source of antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and protect against disease.
The bean is also low in fat and calories, making it a healthy choice for those looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is also a good source of complex carbohydrates, which can help control blood sugar and give you energy that lasts.
The Reemergence of the Iconic Bean
In recent years, the eagle bean has seen a resurgence in popularity. It has become a symbol of Polish culture and heritage and is now widely available in grocery stores and specialty food shops.
In 2007, the Institute of Vegetable Genetic Research in Poland patented the Independence Beans, protecting the beans' unique genetic material. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Poland added the beans to a special list of regional products from the Lesser Poland region in 2010.
Fortunately, the beans have a stable species trait; they don't change their shape or design and do not hybridize with other species. Additionally, they are low-growing, don't need to be placed on poles, and are GMO-free.
How to Incorporate the Eagle Bean into Your Diet
The eagle bean is a versatile ingredient and can be used in a variety of dishes like soups and stews, used as an ingredient in salads, or used to make a type of flour for baking. The bean can also be eaten raw, which is a great way to get the full nutritional benefit of the bean. It can be added to smoothies or salads for a nutritious boost, or it can be sprouted and eaten as a snack. The bean can also be roasted or fried for a crunchy snack.
It's also marketed as a healthy substitute for meat, particularly among vegans and athletes. Cooking the bean for an extended period of time on low heat can help reduce stomach upset caused by eating it raw. The beans then become soft, nutritious, and easily digestible after being cooked at 80 degrees Celsius for a couple of hours.
Celebrate Polish culture and heritage by incorporating the iconic eagle bean into your diet and recipes. It can be used in traditional recipes to honor the country's rich culinary traditions, or it can be used to create new dishes inspired by Polish cuisine.