Tonight I ended my own personal Thirty Years' War. My enemy: the bean. For as long as I can remember, I have cordially loathed beans. Granted, my earliest experiences of this legume all involved forced-feedings of the most repugnant, canned varieties: green, waxed, brown, and lima. So I suppose my claim to hate beans was about as credible as someone who hates beer, having never tasted anything other than Busch Light. On the other hand, you'd think I might be a little more open-minded by now. Just because my parents set the kitchen timer, cruelly threatening me with an early bedtime--or worse--if I didn't choke down the hated detritus, isn't it about time I put my past behind me and gave beans a chance?
I can't say it was a result of any virtuous liberality on my part. Unlike Thoreau, I did not resolve to "Know beans." But two weeks ago, I was having dinner at a friend's house in Milwaukee. In addition to a lovely gorgonzola pasta dish and some magnificent French wine, beans were served. They bore almost no resemblance to the miserable, fetid lumps of childhood agonies. They were brightly colored, and they gave off a not-unpleasant aroma, sauteed as they had been with butter and almonds. Still, it was purely out of a desire to avoid being rude that I placed three beans on my plate and discreetly passed the dish. There they sat as I finished my meal. After my second glass of wine, however, they were still there. So I decided to try them. It was a substantial risk. If past experience was any guide, there was a good chance I would gag or wretch. But I didn't. I chewed. I swallowed. And then I speared another, examining it carefully to make sure it really was a genuine green bean. And lo! it was. And I liked it. Cue the angelic choir--could this really be? I chalked it up to the effect of the wine on my senses: obviously, after two glasses of wine, I can't taste a damned thing. Because if there were any vegetable on God's green earth worthy of damnation, it must surely be the Phaseolus vulgaris.
Yet the next morning, I couldn't shake the haunting suspicion that perhaps, mirabile dictu, a corner had been turned. I was by no means hungover, and I remembered quite distinctly the exquisite flavors of the rest of the meal. No, I must have actually liked them. And so, with all the sheepishness of Richard Dawkins walking down the aisle at a Billy Graham Crusade, I returned home to tell my wife that maybe . . . just maybe . . . I would be willing to try a bean or two if she felt like making them. Of course, they must be fresh, not canned--and just for good measure, they must come from Whole Foods. I'm not messing around with any Kroger beans. And it would be nice if they were sauteed in some butter, with some nice nuts, or something. So tonight Sarah steamed some fresh green beans, sauteed them in butter with toasted walnuts, and we sat down to dinner. There was no wine with our dinner tonight, but true to my word, I tried them nonetheless. I ate three beans. And then I had a second helping. At long last, my war against beans was over. Henceforth, September 3rd, 2007 will be known in Finkendom as the day on which I signed the Peace of Westphaseolus. This is not a total capitulation, mind: I'm still not touching any bean out of a can. Nor am I eating brown, black, pinto, or lima beans. I still have standards. Yet despite the limited scope of the peace, I still feel as though a genuine breakthrough has been made. I do! I like them, Sarah-bean!
And I would eat them in a boat.
And I would eat them with a goat...
And I will eat them in the rain.
And in the dark. And on a train.
And in a car. And in a tree.
They are so good, so good, you see!
So I will eat them in a box.
And I will eat them with a fox.
And I will eat them in a house.
And I will eat them with a mouse.
And I will eat them here and there.
Say! I will eat them ANYWHERE!