Our recent Thanksgiving meals have finally convinced me. I simply do not like green bean casseroles.
I do not like the taste. I do not like the feel in my mouth. I do not like how it looks. I simply do not like green bean casseroles.
For a while, I thought maybe the beans were not well cooked. But I have now sampled this dish by a dozen cooks and I did not like any of them. It is not the cooks. It is not the dish. It is simply my taste.
Now, I like green beans. The first solid food I was given was well-cooked green beans that had been mashed up with a fork. I have eaten and enjoyed green beans for my entire life. So I have no reason not to like green bean casseroles, but I do not like them.
My favorite way to cook green beans starts in the garden. We hand picked the beans including full beans and immature pods. We shell the full beans, then snap and string the young pods so that we have them mixed in the same bowl. The beans were then washed and put in a pot. Cook them until they start to tenderize and add a slice or two of fat back from the smoke house.
Fat back is cured with salt. So adding fatback gives the beans “seasoning” and salt. In another pot we boil young potatoes for potato salad. Meanwhile, we cut up, batter and fry a chicken out of the yard, make a big pot of tea, and we have a meal fit for a king!
As I have said before, we grew up dirt poor out in the country. But one thing we never had a problem with was food. We always had plenty to eat. And the taste and variety was tremendous. Green beans, butter beans, turnips, sweet corn, okra, potatoes, yams, field peas and squash either fresh from the garden or carefully canned and stored in the cellar. There was always plenty of milk, butter, buttermilk and eggs. We grew and butchered our own chickens and pigs. We harvested squirrels, rabbits and fish. We picked fruit and berries from the yard or from the nearby woods. We took bags of wheat and corn to the mill where we gave the miller a share for grinding it. About the only thing we bought from the grocery were tea, coffee, sugar and salt.
My taste in food was built in by the diet we had living in the country. That diet is deeply established in my taste buds. So what is for me a new way to cook green beans just does not fit my lifestyle. I am sure green bean casseroles are healthy, flavorful, and for most people fully acceptable. But I simply do not have a taste for them. I am an old man with old habits and old taste in food. There is nothing I can do about that.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is email@example.com. His website can be accessed at http://www.frankgillispie.com/gillispieonline.