Pinquito Bean Legends

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No one is certain how pinquito beans made their way to the Central Coast of California, but stories and legends abound.

Many ranchers believe they were brought to the area (or given as a gift to one of the Swiss-Italian settlers) by the Spanish vaqueros over a hundred years ago. Since these ranchers started the evolution of Santa Maria style barbecue, which always included pinquito beans, it seems logical that they were familiar with the legume.

Others believe that the “Santa Maria pinks” came with many of the migrant citrus workers who came to the area from south of the border. Depending on whom you ask, these migrant workers are also credited with bringing the tri-tip cut of beef to the region. Since Santa Maria is a fertile valley, many fruits and vegetables grow throughout the year, and the need for migrant workers has always been strong. A similar pinquito bean does exist in Mexico, so perhaps is a relative of the pinquito that grows in the Santa Maria Valley.

A final legend tells the story of a European woman who supposedly brought many pinquito bean plants with her when she emigrated to the area.

Whatever the origin, the pinquito bean has certainly found a home on the Central Coast of California, where it thrives and remains an integral part of the local cuisine.