Sunday, September 18, 2005

Green beans

We grew various things in our family garden when I was growing up, but there were two constants: tomatoes and green beans. The beans were a little more troublesome than the tomatoes. There's a beetle that will chomp the leaves and destroy the plants if you let them. It's not hard to spot a ripe tomato, but beans blend right in with their foliage. And to add insult to injury, they tend to hide under the leaves. No matter how thorough we thought we were, mom could always find a bean or two to prove our sloth.

Still, to this day PJ and I have an obsession with fresh green beans that borders on a fetish. The ones you get from the store are rarely fresh enough -- they've already started converting their sugars. But beans fresh off the bush, or at least picked earlier in the day -- delicious! Cooking them is a cardinal sin. We just snap off the stems and pop them in our mouths.

Saturday, my last stop at the farmer's market was to pick up some green beans. As I approached, I heard the seller telling another customer these would be the first and last beans from this planting. "Our three boys all left home within the last two weeks, so we went out and bought a bean picker," she explained.

"So you replaced your picker, is what you're saying," I countered.

"Yeah, and this one gives me a lot less trouble. Those boys always complained non-stop about picking beans."

I laughed. "I picked beans when I was a kid, and I can't say as how I blame them."

The woman next to me, probably in her sixties, smiled at me. "I picked beans when I was a kid too. I know what you're saying."

Then we all laughed and went on our way.