So, anyone who knows me probably has a pretty good idea of my opinion on beans. Yes, beans. An old friend of mine and I used to share a titter about my reaction in a restaurant to a particular menu item, that of a delectable dish named, “19-Bean Soup.” “Oh my God, are you kidding??? It’s not just one type of bean….not two… but nineteen different types of beans in there?!” Probably funnier if you were there, but, for Pete’s sake, what a nightmare.
Over the years, I have developed a sort of tolerant relationship with beans. And if you’re asking me, “What type of beans, Catherine?”, I’m telling you, it’s pretty much all beans. I don’t discriminate. They’re all kind of gross, even though they’re all different, with different flavors and consistencies. I’m not sure how that pasty mush concoction known as “baked beans” (even when enhanced with the flavor of bacon), is remotely connected with black beans or kidney beans, but they’re all beans, and they’re all gross. I guess the Bean Gene is just not in my DNA. Anyway, I’ve learned to be okay, and almost rather like green beans. With olive oil, garlic, and almonds, or in a salad with vinegar. But just the green ones, no mixing them in with those dreadful yellow ones, or, saints preserve us, chick peas (or any other type of peas, for that matter) (which could be a whole ‘nother post).
I once mentally noted, while Spenser was growing up, that he was going to be deprived of certain things in his gastronomic experiences, because there was no way I was going to make any sort of bean (except maybe green) and expect him to eat it. I don’t know if this is a generational thing, but I remember forcing down some pretty gross things in my days as a kid in the Interlicchio household. I suppose my mother must have liked beans, and thus, this was a normal thing to place upon the table. And, since there were starving children in Africa, I had bloody well eat them.
If you grew up in that generation (oo, I feel old saying that), spreading the unwanted items around your dish, or attempting to hide a few under the rim, or taking a mouthful and gingerly stepping to the bathroom lest you accidentally bite into one on your way to discard them in the toilet, or tossing random ones under the table, to the feet of other family members (owning a dog would have been a real asset), was a routine part of your dining experience.
Part of me used to wonder if my parents’ generation had a particularly sadistic (or masochistic, because they actually ate that stuff) nature, or if this was just their way of getting back at their parents for forcing them to eat that crap in their childhoods.
Anyway, what has inspired me to write this compelling post on the nature of beans is this: I recently made a stew concoction in my crockpot, and, being the conscientious and caring mother I am, threw in some frozen vegetables towards the end of the stewing time.
Imagine my surprise when I saw some things in there that looked confoundingly similar to these things known to the general world as “lima” beans. I realized, with horror, that either the supermarket had mis-labeled my bag of “winter mix” vegetables, or, I had simply chosen the wrong bag.
I considered picking them out before they sank into the mire of beef, soy sauce, and tomato, but, decided against it. Because something you do, when you’re a bean hater, is to hope that the other flavors or food items of the dish will be enough to cover the flavor of those nefarious items lumped onto your plate. Not to mention that it’s always good to re-try things you hated as a kid. Heck, maybe I’ll even like lima beans!
I’ve re-discovered that lima beans are pretty #*)!_@@#% disgusting. Still. Not only that, but even after 8 plus hours of cooking in a crock pot, when the other, congenial food items have naturally broken apart, and become tender and flavored with the delightful juices in their neighborhood, the lima bean has the (un)natural ability to stay completely intact. And to repel any other flavors which might invade its shell. Yes, the lima bean retains all of its glorious lima bean flavor.
This, of course, led me to the reflection that lima beans could be used as weapons in the ultimate biological (heck, even nuclear) warfare. Not only did they have the likely capability to endure extensive hours of heat and eventual impact/explosion, but the unfortunate enemies upon which they rained down would be forced to eat them in their dire circumstances. If the explosion didn’t kill them, certainly the ridiculous lima bean flavor would.
I know this sounds a little far-fetched, but, my fellow bean-haters will recognize the value of what is written here. There is nothing magical about beans. And, they make you toot. And you know how I feel about that.