The chickpeas that changed the world

If every day you shut your eyes and walk down the same street with the same giant pothole then every day you’ll fall in.

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Image by GetSelfSufficient

I was reminded of this aphorism whilst opening a can of chickpeas at the weekend.

No, this isn’t a very auspicious start but bear with me.

There’s nothing much to say about opening chickpeas. You just drain ‘em and eat ‘em, right?

Except earlier this year, a vegan American Software Engineer called Goose Wohlt questioned that.

Instead of draining the gelatinous, fart-stenched brine down the sink, he poured it into a bowl. And then whisked it.

This is already mindblowing to me. Why would you do that? It’s just a foul liquid designed only to keep the product inside edible. Everyone knows that.

But what Goose found was that whipping the waste chickpea water gives the exact same result as whisking egg whites – it becomes voluminous and frothy and eventually forms stiff peaks. So he mixed it with sugar, baked it in blobs and ate the result. He ate something that no vegan is normally allowed to eat: a meringue. A perfect meringue.

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Image by Sarah R

WHAT?! This is so far beyond standard process that it seems off-the-chart crazy to me. How do you take that leap? How do you programme yourself to access such a childlike desire for discovery, where everything is possible because no outcomes are yet defined?

So this weekend, instead of draining the tin water away I followed Goose’s lead. And as a non-vegan I can confirm these meringues had the same taste and texture as an egg white version. It’s bizarre.

Now there’s an explosion of research and recipe creation with aquafaba, the name Goose coined for the liquid, because no one really knows why this works. But if you’re a vegan, you can finally eat lemon meringue pie, omelettes and mayonnaise, amongst other things. And there are even discussions about how to use up the leftover chickpeas!

If every day you shut your eyes and walk down the same street with the same giant pothole then every day you’ll fall in.

Until one day you open your eyes, see the pothole and choose a different street.

To me, this is exactly what mindfulness means. By looking at everything with an attentiveness that brings new perspective. By letting go and unlearning whatever you thought you knew in every conceivable – and inconceivable – scenario.

Whether it’s vegan cookery, our own mental health or how we choose to consider the people and world around us, what might we achieve if we just ask, “Is this the way it has to be?”

 

RESEARCH QUESTION: Whether it’s lowly or lofty, what one basic principle might you question?

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