Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Accidental Vegetarian, II

image linked from wikipedia.org

Strange fruit, I often think, this Phaseolus lunatus, the common butter bean. Some people call it a lima bean, which I did until I met my wife. I told her that I like lima beans, and she bought a couple of cans when she was next at the grocery store.

"But these are lima beans," I said when I saw the can. The illustration showed an oblong-shaped bean the same sickly green color of the walls of a government office. I know the words were on the can, but the thing my people called lima beans were so tan as to be almost white. And soft rather than hard.

"Oh," she said, "you mean butter beans."

Apparently I did. It's a matter of culture, this labeling of the beans, now raised in varieties based on modern reflections of those grown by Andean Mesoamericans of the first millennium, colonized by the Spanish, and passed into the Anglo-Celt-African culture of the south by those who put hand to plow.

I suppose I prefer the Dixie, or Henderson type, but by whatever name, I also know beans are a strange breakfast, especially for someone raised in a house where the common morning meal was two eggs over easy, two strips of bacon, and two slices of white toast with jam or jelly. We had southern roots, but no one liked grits.

To be continued.
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