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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Food for Thought. By John von Daler

                   You put the green #beans in plenty of water together with some smoked and salted bacon. Then you boil the combination for exactly twenty-four hours. At the end of the day the beans look like twisted licorice sticks and taste like salted leather. You throw away the water they were boiled in; it looks like the great, grey-green, greasy Limpopo River. You eat the beans, as they say, because they are good for you.

                My mother grew up in the South of the United States. She came from what for those times was a very open-minded family. They taught her how to meet other groups of people and how to boil vegetables. These traditions somehow got entertwined, at least in my mind. The beans I hated. The open-mindedness I distrusted in as much as I suspected that a kind of condescension ran through it. Our views on vegetables and people somehow found a back burner where they just simmered and simmered unnoticed for a long, long time.
                I read somewhere that beans cooked in the same way were served on plantations in slavery times. The slave-owning families were given the old, tired-out beans and the slaves were given the pot liquor, the boiled-out liquid that contained enumerable vitamins and minerals. None of the slave owners ever got the nutritive part of the dish. Nor did I one century later.
                Since I have grown up and moved on, I have tried to do something about the beans and about open-mindedness. The solution to both sets of problems is freshness. The raw vegetables should be as fresh as you can get them. Beans and peas I either eat uncooked or just simmer for less than five minutes without any additives. They taste delightful.                
                The people? Never assume that you are unprejudiced. Keep things fresh. A short boiling time certainly does help. Pour your preconceptions down the drain with the pot liquor as often as possible. Otherwise you will end up all tough and salty.

My book, Pieces: A Life in Eight Movements and a Prelude (WiDo Publishing) is now available. Order through, the publisher or your local bookstore. Click to buy Pieces HERE. Please feel free to write a short review of the book in your own language at or GoodReads. Thanks for your support!

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