When Psyche and Cupid were going through their famous marital difficulties (the boy even went home to his mother), Psyche was said to have wandered the land, trying to find her husband and calling upon all the gods for their help to do so. She first turns to Demeter and Hera, the goddesses of fertility and marriage, and cleans and tends Their shrines in an attempt to win Their aid. Eventually she turns to Aphrodite, goddess of love (and mother of Cupid) for Her aid, and Aphrodite sets her the task of sorting through a pile of common, small grains…among which was the humble chickpea.
What’s so special about a chickpea, and why would sorting them do any good in winning back her husband?
Chickpeas have been a staple in the Western world for thousands of years. Even Cicero, the famous orator, got his name from his family’s cultivation of them (the Latin word for them was “cicer”). Perhaps it was because they were so nutritious (a cup of them has about as much protein as a chicken breast), or perhaps it was because they were so versatile (hummus, anyone?), but chickpeas were one gift from the gods that humanity has perpetually been fond of. Like love, the chickpea can be a small, humble thing. It may not be brightly colored, super flavorful on its own, and dealing with its tiny annoyances can really take a lot out of you. Beauty, like love, though, is in the eye of the beholder, and Aphrodite may have been trying to teach Psyche that sometimes you don’t appreciate what you’ve got until its gone. Sometimes it’s worth dealing with the little messes to achieve the big gains.
In celebration of Psyche and Cupid working out their marital issues, and in honor of the eyes of Aphrodite being able to perceive the worth in even the small and humble, here’s a recipe for Aphrodite’s Eyes (or, if you prefer, aquafaba meringue):
1 can of chickpeas, refridgerated
2/3 cup of sugar
2 tsp almond extract or another flavoring extract (do not use cocoa, which contains fat and which will prevent the meringue from forming properly)
½ tsp cream of tartar
Gel food coloring, if desired
Yields: about 40 meringues
1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
2. Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper. Avoid wax paper or greasing a pan…fat will make these come apart and the results will be really messy!
3. Drain the chickpeas, reserving the liquid (set the chickpeas aside for a future use).
4. Mix in the cream of tartar to the liquid (this will help it form stiff peaks).
5. Use a stand or electric mixer to begin beating the liquid on high speed, slowly adding in 1 tablespoon of sugar at a time to let it gradually mix in.
6. When the mixture stiffens and becomes glossy, add in your flavorings and gel food color.
7. When you get stiff peaks each time you lift the mixer, use a tablespoon or piping bag to place dollops of the mix onto the baking sheets.
8. Bake the meringues for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until they are stiff to the touch. Take them out of the oven and let cool.
These will last for two to three days, and if you use unprocessed sugar to make them, can be a vegan treat!
[Written by Ashley Nicole Hunter.]