By Julie Page
What does a bowl of soup suggest to you?
It’s a simple meal, but wholesome, and while you cradle your bowl, perhaps you don’t realise it, but you are engaged in an act that resonates through history and cultures. Take for instance the humble chickpea. It’s a common ingredient, but it might surprise you to know that as well as the Indonesian chickpea soup I enjoyed today, this superstar of the pulse world features in most if not all of the diverse culinary cuisines represented by the Doncaster Conversation community. It’s small but mighty: packed with protein, fibre, other nutrients, and a low glycaemic index.
The chickpea is one of the earliest cultivated legumes, having been domesticated at least 9500 years ago, in southeast Turkey. Its use gradually spread across West Asia, the Mediterranean region and India, by 3000BCE. If you survey the cuisines of the world, the chickpea, or chana or garbanzo, features in most vegetarian and vegan traditions. It seems that this modest pulse has had quite a role in building bridges between different cultural groups.
Let’s finish our soup in the company of a well-known polymath. Leonardo da Vinci may well have enjoyed a bowl of chickpea soup. This may have had something to do with his family connections. The genius of Leonardo is traditionally viewed as the epitome of European achievement, but there is rather more to his story. His grandfather, Antonio, in whose home he was raised, regularly had contact with the Arab world.
Geographical cultivation is spread across time and the globe. In a small but tasty way, this is unity.