Saturday, May 17, 2008

Gimme Them Beans by Kat Magendie

I grew up with home-cooked food. I sound almost dinosaurian, but I never knew the difference, as there were many other kids who grew up when I did who didn’t eat at fast food joints. Our family never had a lot of money, what with five kids and a daddy who part of the time of our childhoods was attending college. That meant no restaurants were on our menu, either. The only exceptions came in later years when we lived in Baton Rouge—when we went to the Piccadilly on Government Street on an occasional Sunday, when Mother bought home hot tamales from that hot tamale place on North Boulevard, and the one and only time Mother stopped at a McDonalds (I was a teen) and came home with bags of hamburgers and French fries while we kids stared with fascination and lust over the previously unknown mystery held under those golden arches.

Our meals consisted of lots and lots of beans. Many many beans. And you’d think I would be tired of them, but I am not. I still love beans, particularly pintos, which was Mother’s bean of choice. There were butter beans, crowder peas, blackeyed peas (which I hated, because I thought they smelled like dirty socks), baby limas and big limas, navy beans—all eaten with cornbread sopping with butter. South Louisianians have their Red Beans and Rice, but my mother is from Arkansas, and my daddy from Tennessee, so we ate what many would consider “Country Cookin’.” When we weren’t having beans, we had rice and gravy, succotash (which meant lots of leftovers stirred together to make this stuff that didn’t taste half bad), chipped-cream beef on toast (that strange beef that is cut in strips and has the texture of softened rubber, but somehow Mother made it taste good), and more beans, beans, beans, glorious beans.

Thanks, Mom. Because I grew up eating all those beans, and because we didn’t eat out at fast food joints and restaurants, I have the arteries and heart of someone half my age, maybe younger. When I had my carotid artery sonogrammed, the technician fell in love with it. She gushed, “Oh My God, oh. Oh, this is the cleanest prettiest most beautiful artery I have ever seen in my life! Come look at this, Joe! You have to see it!” My heart is strong, too, and I am healthy as that clich├ęd horse. Gratitude is fickle, some things aren’t appreciated in their time, but later, when the results rear their pretty arteried head.


Angie Ledbetter said...

We had the same menu as kids, with huge logs of bologna thrown in, and lots of government cheese and peanut butter -- the best! Still love fried bologna sandwiches and remember my first bought burger at age 12. ;)

Kathryn Magendie said...

Fried Bologna! yes!

Thom said...

As Kat's brother I can testify about the beans, there were lots and lots of them. What I am grateful for is that Kat finally learned to make cornbread! The first batch I remember her making wouldn't harden, it was still "runny" after cooking WAY too long. The second time I remember that it was so hard we couln't break it. Of course as her brothers we teased her without mercy - I remember rolling on the floor laughing as Mike removed a 9" round piece of cornbread (you couldn't cut it) and tried to break it over the corner of the counter. LOL, it didn't break ... easily ;-)

Kathryn Magendie said...

*LAUGHING!* OMG - the cornbread! ...hehehe --

I think I will write a gratitude post about learning to bake cornbread - haw!!

Nannette Croce said...

You know I never understood the bad rap beans received, as in "during the Depression we ate beans every night." Boring I could understand, but nutritionally low in fat, high in protein and fiber, and inexpensive. We should all each such a healthy diet now.

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