Never Again the Beans

So, I am packing. Packing, packing, packing. Boxes, boxes, tape, newspapers, styrofoam peanuts (which were leftover from the last move, three years ago), and markers make up my days and nights. I dream of boxes, tape, and more boxes, then wake up flailing and screaming, “Where did the goddamned marker go?”

And then I get up and so some more packing.

Packing, packing, packing.


It is not fun.

We had to travel to the new house today to talk with our contractor about something or another having to do with the bathroom he is redoing. Which was cool, because we could take stuff with us to go into the house. Which is great, because we have a couple of light fixtures we want him to put in said bathroom (they are ultra-cool, as they look like stylized glass UFOs), so we took those along. But there was room in the car for more.

So, tired as I was of packing files, stuff from the closets and dishes, I got the grand idea to start packing non-perishable food items to take with us and put in the pantry of the new house.

Oh, the cleverness of me.

So, I put together some boxes, and dragged them into the kitchen and plunked myself down in front of the pantry and started dragging stuff out of the bottom shelf, which is where I keep the dried staples. You know, like grains (except rice, that has its own special place) and pasta and things like that.

Oh, yeah, and beans. Dried beans live there.

Lots of them.

Package after package of dried beans began to emerge from the depths of the bottom pantry shelf. Beans that had not seen the light of day since Methuselah walked the earth. (Okay, so maybe they weren’t that old. Maybe they had been hidden only since Jesus walked on water to the amazement of his friends and neighbors.)

And not just any old kind of beans, but a plethora of beans from cuisines spanning the globe lived in that pantry in a veritable United Nations of Leguminous Vegetables.

Well, it is true that I found some old standard United States favorites, like pinto beans, black beans and plain brown lentils.

But I also found French black beluga lentils and green lentils as well as the lovely Indian salmon-colored masoor dal, which as we know, are brown lentils split and stripped naked.

Also hailing from India were toor dal–yellow split peas. Urad dal, both split and whole. Kali Channa, otherwise known as black chickpeas, white chickpeas which I didn’t even know we had, or I would have used them for the channa masala, and moong dal.

Then there were the three packages of azuki beans, which are used in both Japanese and Chinese cuisines. Behind them were stuffed a couple of pounds of French flageolet, looking pale and lovely next to the dusky Italian borlotti. Louisiana red beans and Italian cannellini beans were crammed beside the Caribbean’s beloved pigeon peas.

I am never going to buy a dried bean or lentil or dal or legume ever again. Ever.

Never, ever, ever.

And then, when that was done, out came the grains. Bulgar, brown rice, wild rice, corn. Quinoa. Posole. Pounds of posole, which I bought because I figured that I wouldn’t be able to buy it in Athens.

And after that, I found the stash of rice noodles. Thick, thin, narrow, wide, and all sizes in between. And the bean thread noodles. And the rice wrappers.

And behind them, was one more package of lentils.

As if I needed more.

As I shoved all of this bounty into boxes, I reflected on my hoarding behavior and realized something about myself.

I must be stopped.

At all costs.

Because if I ever cook all of these beans, the air will not be fit to breathe in my house. There is not enough Beano in the world to save Zak and I from ourselves.

With that realization, I decided that after we get settled into the new house, I will institute a policy of making one new bean dish a week until we are rid of this uncanny surfeit of legumes. I will invite friends over and we will eat beans until there are no more.

So stay tuned for the further adventures of the Bean Babe and her faithful sidekick in the kitchen, Beano the Magnificent as they endeavor to rid the pantry of an overabundance of healthy and flavorful legumes without gassing the entire small town of Athens, Ohio into oblivion.

Of course, the obvious question that arises is what will the Bean Babe do when she runs out of beans?

The answer is elementary: go out and buy some more.


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  1. I do belive you can get posole in Athens now. We have had over the past 2 or 3 years an increase in our hispanic residents. Kind of funny to hear it called “Ah-hens”
    Check the New Market, they have all sorts of cool stuff. We will have to make a trip there some time after your settled.

    Comment by Bryian — March 19, 2005 #

  2. Well, when the five pounds of posole I bought in Columbus is finally cooked and eaten, it will be good to know that I can replentish my hoard of it directly in Athens.

    Yes, we will have to go on an excusion to the New Market. I see it has expanded since my last visit.

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — March 19, 2005 #

  3. LMAO!
    Sounds a little like me and rice! Last count I had 13 different types. eep.
    I recently bought some rather beautiful looking dried beans from Waitrose (I’m a sucker for pretty foodstuffs) so I look forward to reading about your adventures. 🙂
    – Christina

    Comment by Christina — March 19, 2005 #

  4. But one can NEVER have enough dried beans in the house! What??? no puy lentils? no blackeyed peas?? no fava beans??? ;^)

    Of course I can say that because I have vowed that we will NEVER move.


    Comment by ejm — March 19, 2005 #

  5. The green lentils are puy lentils. So, yes, some of those.

    No black-eyed peas. I like them now, but in childhood I never liked the way they smelled, so I didn’t eat them unless I was forced to. But I think because of that childhood aversion, I have never gone about cooking them now.

    As for fava beans: absolutely not. Peeling those godawful bastards is a pain and a trial. If I can get them fresh, they are allright, but dried–soaking and peeling them was a chore I did one too many times in culinary school, and I never liked the way they tasted afterwards enough to justify the endless peeling and soaking and attendant nonsense.

    Of course, the fact that we never cooked them in small quantities meant that we peeled them by the ten pounds or so, which is an endless, painful and thankless task, so maybe only a small pot of them wouldn’t be so bad.

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — March 19, 2005 #

  6. Fava beans are kind of evil anyways…there’s a genetic metabolic disorder called G6PD deficiency that leads to hemolytic anemia after exposure to certain substances, including fava beans. And it’s not hard to walk around and not know you have that particular disorder…or to not know the triggers. Even the NIH fails to mention fava beans as a problem with G6PD deficiency.

    Comment by etherbish — March 20, 2005 #

  7. Christina–you beat me on the varieties of rice–I only have ten! (Though, in truth, I only cook three of them with any frequency.)

    I will post pictures and recipes from the Bean Night experiments. I will attempt to leave discussion of the atmospheric disturbances out of the discussion as I go, though in truth, I will try out various methods that are meant to reduce the gaseous emissions inherent to bean digestion. These techniques include pre-soaks (where you discard the soaking water), the use of asefoetida and the use of espazote and not eating the cooking water.

    However, Beano will be distributed all around at serving time, thus probably rendering the experimentations useless.

    Ladi–I had not heard that about fava beans. How interesting–the chefs in culinary school were very good about telling us the various good and bad research reports on food as they came up, but of that I’ve heard nothing.

    Nice to know that NeeWee and I have good reasons to dislike fava beans other than the fact that we were always oppressed by having to peel the little buggers.

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — March 20, 2005 #

  8. I wondered if the green lentils might be puy lentils – in the photo on the internet, they looked much greener than the puy lentils we get.

    Black-eyed peas are wonderful made into a curry and served with chapatis.

    And fava beans are a must for fuhl! (although I agree that they can be a bit of a drag because they tend to be so tough) And true, one can make a reasonable fuhl with just about any dried bean. I didn’t know that they could present problems to those with G6PD deficiency (I confess I’ve never heard of this disorder.) The only thing that I do with dried beans, especially favas, is be very careful to remove any discoloured beans and any beans that float when put in water.

    Christina, you have us beat hands down with the rice. We only have three kinds! Basmati, Thai and arborio.


    Comment by ejm — March 20, 2005 #

  9. I agree with you, Elizabeth–curried black eyed peas are delushiful. (Yes, I made that word up. I get more eccentric as I deal with stress.)

    I would make fuhl with different beans, probably dried lima beans–the really big, kinda dry ones. I just hate playing with favas just that much. I spent waaaay too many hours playing with them in culinary school to love them now.

    On the other hand, I saw some lovely looking anasazi beans at the store last night, but Zak smacked my hand when I reached for them.

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — March 20, 2005 #

  10. Anasazi beans… oooh… what are those?? I just googled and see that they look a little bit like borlottis. But maybe more beautiful. I can well imagine the temptation!

    Delushiful. Wonderful! I like it! I’m sure that it will be in the next edition of Websters!


    Comment by ejm — March 21, 2005 #

  11. can some one tell me how to cook borlotti beans??? please!
    or any other kind of beans! in an indian style, so i can have then with chapattis!
    lol, thank you!

    Comment by Anonymous — October 19, 2005 #

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