Everywhere we go we keep seeing bean advertisements for soups, pintos and Anasazi beans. I finally found out why while visiting the small town of Dove Creek. Dove Creek is the self-appointed "pinto bean capital of America," Dove Creek doesn't claim to produce the nation's largest crop, just the best. :-) There's ample justice in the boast. The local soil and climate create a perfect environment for pinto beans, which have been raised here for at least a thousand years.
Ancestral Puebloans grew them in profusion, using many of the same techniques modern tillers employ. Locally grown beans filled GI ration tins during World War II, and area farmers later helped researchers develop higher-yielding, more durable strains that gained worldwide acceptance. In the 1990s a Dove Creek supplier began selling "heirloom" beans, grown from seeds reportedly recovered at nearby archaeological sites. But the future of bean cuisine may lie in Dove Creek's homegrown recipes, which include such dessert treats as pinto bean ice cream sauce and pinto bean cookies. We had hoped to stop and buy some of the bean soup mixes and more, but they were closed the day we visited.
They are not just famous for pinto beans, they boast that the Anasazi beans are the "Best Beans in the World".
The Anasazi were Indians who lived in the four corners area (now Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico) dating back to 130 A.D. They are best identified with their substantial architectural achievements known today as "cliff dwellings". Mesa Verde National Park, Hovenweep, Canyon de Chelly and many other dwelling that dot the arid countryside, represent these structures. "Anasazi" is a Navajo word perhaps best translated as "the ancient ones".
Anasazi Beans were one of the few crops cultivated by the Anasazi. They were found in the ruins by settlers to the four corners area in the early 1900's. Presently they are grown at 7,000 ft. elevation on the same land the Anasazi inhabited.
Anasazi Beans are considered an unusually tasty baking bean, very scrumptious with ham and flavorful in Mexican dishes.
We finally found several varieties in the local grocery store and made the delicious soup. It was wonderful and we highly recommend it to all our readers.
Check back later for more from Colorado.