Sometimes the food gods conspire to make you take notice of a certain ingredient.
On one recent night, some friends invited us over for dinner and made chana masala, an Indian chickpea stew layered with the flavors of onions, ginger, cumin, tomatoes, sweet spices and sour fruit – all of it butting up against that inimitable creamy-firm texture of the peas.
The next night I arrived in New York for a meeting and gathered with friends after dinner at a Spanish wine bar in Chelsea named El Quinto Pino. On the bar was a small cazuela dish filled with chef
Alex Raij’s famous (and often imitated) creations: deep-fried chickpeas that had been liberally dusted with smoked Spanish paprika. As full as I was from dinner, I couldn’t keep myself from reaching into the dish for these peas. Their skins had opened in the fryer and hovered by the peas like the wings on the Golden Snitch of Harry Potter fame, giving a fleeting zip and crunch.
The next day’s meeting involved a lunch delivery
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