Small confession – until I was an adult, I absolutely hated beans.
To be fair, my only exposure to beans as a child were in four dishes; succotash, bean soup, three bean salad, and Boston Baked Beans. We did not eat chili as kids, so I was not exposed to the beans vs no beans chili controversy until much later in life.
Succotash, (emphasis on SUCK) was a side that my mom occasionally tried to get us kids to eat. Sometimes the school lunch would include succotash. I would eat the corn and leave the Lima beans. Lime beans had a cabbagey flavor to them, sort of like Brussels Sprouts, and the texture was slimy and grainy at the same time. I suspect Lima beans from school lunches were mostly pocketed to be used later as ammunition to peg the back of the head of some unsuspecting teacher’s aide.
Bean soup – my mother would make varieties of bean soup in the winter. Minestrone, Navy bean soup, Congressional Bean Soup – if the recipe had beans in it, she would try it. She usually ended up eating it as well. Sometimes she would throw canned white beans into the Hot Dog Soup, which I would just pick out. Again, I think it was a texture issue for me – the skins just bothered me.
Three bean salad – every year at the family picnic, SOMEONE would bring Three Bean Salad. So now we’re taking green beans and wax beans, which I love, and mixing in kidney beans, which I don’t like at all, and then adding a vinegar dressing to it! AND serving it COLD! Oh, the HORROR of it all! Watching grown-ups devour this concoction was quite beyond me. Why do they even pretend to like it? And then eating it with *gasp* cottage cheese!
Boston Baked Beans were the topper, even beyond Lima beans.
Sickeningly sweet, pasty, gummy, with a tantalizing scent of bacon (and none to be seen!), as a child I thought baked beans were just something folks ate to make everyone in the house hate them two hours later. The molasses was too heavy a flavor for me, and I didn’t like them hot or cold. The only time I ever liked them was when one of my aunts made tacos and she mixed baked beans into the taco meat to stretch it out to feed 6 kids. She mashed them up and I never suspected.
I haven’t eaten succotash in years, but I did find two ways I enjoy lima beans – cooked with bacon, or pureed and served with a sage, onion, and apple topping. (It was supposed to be made with Fava beans, but I couldn’t find any.)
*I* make the bean soups now. I throw in lots of sausage or kielbasa or smoked ham, and I skim the skins out of the soup.
I found I actually *like* Three Bean Salad, especially with a good, large curd cottage cheese. I don’t eat it as often because I’m the only person in the house who likes it.
It took until I was married the first time to actually like baked beans, and then it was because I had made them. I found a recipe in either Bon Appetit or Gourmet magazine, with a variation for honey instead of molasses, and they were glorious! None of that heaviness that came with using molasses (I found out later that it was the difference between using light molasses and blackstrap molasses) and the texture was perfect – the beans were not mushy, nor were they grainy.
And then I lost the damn magazine with the recipe!
Oh, and for what it’s worth, I prefer my Chili without beans.
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