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Mike Redmond Column

Please refer to the Mike Redmond Column main page for columns published in other issues.
Mike can be contacted via e-mail at mike@mikeredmondonline.com.

 

 

 

 Beans Really Are a Magical Fruit

Today's sermon is about beans.

Yes, I said beans. Which are, as we all remember from fourth grade, the magical fruit. The more you eat, the more you ... well, you know the rest. And if you don't, ask a fourth grader. Classic poetry never goes out of style.

And yes, I said sermon. Lately I have gone from being someone who simply enjoyed beans now and then to someone who eats them religiously, and like all religious nuts, I've taken to proselytizing.

When it's dinner and the beans are on the table, I'll preach the wonders of the Our Friend The Legume to anyone within earshot. I'll even call people (well, my brother) on the telephone to rattle on about Nature's High-Fiber, High-Protein, Low-Fat Nutritional Powerhouse. Wendell Fowler, that chef and columnist who writes about how cheeseburgers and fried chicken are nothing but slow suicide (thanks for the buzzkill, Wendell) has nothing on me in the Bean Department.

(Logrolling disclosure: Wendell and I have been pals for many years. We even do cooking demonstrations together in which he cooks healthy food while I cook what normal people eat. It's fun. He once told our audience he was preparing "good colon food." I said I had yet to hear anyone say, "Honey, let's go out for some colon food tonight." He threw a piece of tofu at me. It was just like cooking at home.)

(We return you now to the Bean Column in progress.)

So what brought about this change of heart? I'm not sure. It could be that cheeseburgers and fried chicken were making me ... oh, what's the word I'm looking for? Ah, yes: fat. Which, speaking of heart, was doing no good to mine.

It could also be that the standard beans of my life - navies, Great Northerns and pintos, mostly, cooked with a hamhock and served with a pan of hot cornbread - have recently been supplanted by heritage bean varieties that got rave reviews in a recent issue of Saveur magazine.

"Oh, come on," I thought as I read. "They're beans. How good could they be?" Curious, I ordered some from the friendly folks at www.ranchogordo.com, in Napa, Calif.

One pot of Rancho Gordo beans later, I was marveling at how much Beany Goodness I had been missing - depth, texture and complexity of flavor that, frankly, are just not to be found in the old store-shelf standbys. I felt I had finally found the beans I'd been searching for. Can I get an Amen? Oh. Well, you have your searches and I have mine, OK?

In the last week alone, I've delighted in the dense, juicy Good Mother Stallard bean. I've flipped over yellow eye beans, which will replace Great Northerns in my soup from now on. And I just about swooned over Christmas Limas, a mottled bean that tastes something like chestnuts. And they've all been cooked without the hamhock, with just a few sauteed aromatic vegetables for flavor. I honestly didn't think beans were edible without a piece of smoked and salted pork in the pot. Boy, was I wrong. And boy, is this a great way to learn it. Take that, Wendell.

Thus endeth the sermon. A fruit they are not, but magical they can be. Hear me, brothers and sisters. I have tasted the promised bean, and the ancient rhyme is true: The more you ... eat ... the better you feel.

And as for the rest of poem, the part that puts fourth graders in hysterics? It's true, too. But that's why we have Beano. And I know I can get an "Amen" on that.

 

 

 

© 2008 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.