Recently on the London Bloggers’ Meetup Group website I noticed a competition about BEANS. The prize is a lovely luxury bean bag from Ambient Lounge and all the entrants have to do is write a short (Epicurienne? Short? That’ll be the hard part…) post about BEANS. This made me think. Hard. I love beans, so I decided to create an A to Z to help me to remember how many varieties there are.
A Well, this has to be for Ambient Lounge, the supplier of the bean bag prize/s for this competition. They’re super-cool, are used to furnish Kensington Roof Gardens, a top London club with views over London, and there’s even a sun lounger bean bag – how hip is that?
B There are loads of BEANS beginning with B: Baked, Black, Broad, Butter. Beansprouts are great for salads and stir fries. The Adventures of Beans Baxter is a US TV series. Brazil is currently the biggest producer of dry beans and I come from the generation who all know what a Bean-o comic is.
C Did you know that the Chickpea is a bean? Now you do. There are Cocoa beans for hot drinks and chocolate making, Coffee beans to keep us awake, Castor beans which give a delightful flavour to sugar and the Common bean which can be used for just about anything. Coral beans and Cranberry beans are a bit more exotic. In France, Cassoulet is a wonderful meal comprising duck stewed in its own juices with fat, white beans. It’s a hearty winter meal in itself.
D stands for Designer Bean Bags upon which to launch oneself after a long day of arduous work, while watching The Food Channel. There is also a Dolichos bean which sounds delicious.
E is for Edamame, or soy bean, upon which patrons crunch in smart Asian food establishments.
F The Fava bean is another name for the Broad bean. Fagioli is the Italian word for bean. Flageolets are wonderful, juicy white beans which are popular in France (and in Epic’s London kitchen) and Fabaceae is one name for the family of plants whose seeds become BEANS on our plates at home. Flatulence can be the embarrassing result of eating too many BEANS but BEANS are too tasty for us to worry about a bit of wayward wind, no?
G The Green bean is a staple of many a mean-and-three-veg dinner, but for something a little special, you could always seek out the Goldmarie Vining Pole bean.
H Haricots Verts are the French green beans and who doesn’t know the slogan ‘Beanz Meanz HEINZ?’. Hannibal Lechter of ‘Silence of the Lambs’ is renowned for the following spine-chilling quote: “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti,” and on many an international boardwalk you will find teenagers doing unbelievable tricks with their bean-filled hacky-sacks.
I is for India, the second most prolific producer of dry beans in the world.
J is for the eponymous Jack, famed for the magic beans that grow into a giant beanstalk in one of the most popular fairy tales of all time. There is also a variety of bean called the Jack, and everyone has a favourite colour of Jelly bean, although the manufacturer, Jelly Belly, has extended the flavour options so far that having just one favourite is probably a thing of the past.
K is for Kidney beans.
L stands for Leguminosae, another family of plants responsible for giving us beans. There is also the Lima bean variety and LL Bean, the classic clothes mail-order catalogue from the States – very New England.
M Here we find Mung beans (edible) and Rowan Atkinson’s doofy character, Mr Bean (not). Monty Python sang ‘Spam spam spam spam spam spam spam baked beans spam spam and spam is delicious, trust me!’ Personally, I can’t stand Spam but will take the baked beans any day.
N is for Navy beans, and
O is for Onions. The gardener’s advice is to never grow your beans next to onions – it will end in tears. But onions as a base for bean dishes will add texture and flavour.
P Beans grow in Pods, just like Peas, which are also beans, but let’s not confuse the issue by going into that here. It’s a whole different blog post. Polyanthus beans and Pinto beans come under Beans Beginning With P.
Q Beans form a vital ingredient for the classic Mexican Quesadilla.
R is for the classic Runner bean, the Refried bean used for Nachos, the Red bean, the Rice bean and the Roman bean. Go one up on the Joneses by serving the Roc d’Or or the Royalty Purple Podded Bush beans at your dinner parties.
S Beans are seeds and when planted will grow more beans. Beans beginning with S include Soy beans, Sieva beans and Scarlet Runner beans. The Latin name for the Sword bean is GLADIATA (perfect to give you energy before taking on Russell Crowe’s mates in a Colosseum somewhere). Spilling the beans will only get you in trouble.
T is for Tepary beans, and Tavera beans, otherwise known as French green filet beans.
U finds us with the Urad bean which is black with a soft white interior and highly popular in India, and
V gives us Vanilla beans and Velvet beans – what a sumptuous name.
W stands for Wattie’s, the New Zealand company who canned the baked beans I ate during my downunder childhood and
X is a tricky one so I’ve cheated – X is for TeX-MeX, a cuisine which makes great use of the humble bean.
Y is for the Yardlong bean and
Z is for ZE end.
That’s my A-Z of beans. Now if only I had a big fat bean bag to fall into… I’d be a very happy BEAN indeed.