The Library of Table

Given an infinite combination of games & food . . .

The Undeniable Duality of the Green Bean

Right, so in an effort to get back on track with VeganMoFo, I’m forcing myself to post before lunch. And I’m pretty fucking hungry, so this’ll be short and sweet.

Let’s talk about the green bean.

Oops, sorry. My fault.

I meant, “Let’s talk about the green bean.”

Though these two vegetables share the same origin, they’re about as different as any two vegetables can be. (Originally I was going to go with this whole pre- and post-black album Metallica metaphor, but I didn’t want to taint either of these noble foodstuffs with “The Unforgiven” and company.)

Despite this common origin, and their homophonic relationship, these are two very, very different foodstuffs. To swap them up in a recipe is to invite disaster into your kitchen.

For the most part, it’s easy to keep them separated. If you’re making a stir-fry, you’re using fresh green beans. If it’s a casserole, it’s canned. Take today’s lunch, for example.  It will be brought to me by the canned variety of green bean. And despite the fact that I’ll be using a process very similar to what is commonly knowns as a stir-fry, I’ll actually be making a casserole, because I’ll be using canned green beans. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.*

Growing up in Ohio, my family had a garden behind the house, which sounds quite pleasant, and it was, but was also very useful. There was a lot of money saved via that garden, though as a child I was quite oblivious to this. We’d frolic — yes, frolic — in those salad days, among the squash and chives and beans, nibbling like little rabbits as we go, heedless of necessity of the crop to my parent’s bank account.

I have vivid memories of canning marathons that took place late in the summer. Tomato sauces and whatnot, stored for the winter. And one of the most vivid memories of this is sitting with my grandmother on my back porch snapping green beans in preparation.

Can’t you just smell the bucolic?

As we snapped them, I’d occasionally pop a furry bean into my mouth. Partly for the fuzzy feel, partly for sweetish taste, and mostly because idle hands will do that when you’re toying with food. And there lies another one of the fundamental differences betwixt the beans. I’d never eat a canned bean raw. Once you can them, you’ve sealed their fate to that of a cooked bean. Well, technically, you’re cooking them to can them, but you know what I mean. Eating a green bean off the vine: delightful. Eating a green bean right out of the can: desperate.

Okay, damn it, I’m hungry and I’ve got a casserole to make before I can enjoy some green beans. I wish I could leave you on a pithy note, but my salacious desire for these tin-bound morsels is getting the better of me.

* I know that’s not the right fallacy, but it sounds so smart in Latin.

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