Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Lazy Wife Greasy Bean


I ran into my friend Paul among the seed display at our local hardware store early this spring, and naturally we started talking about plans for our gardens. He is a man with a disposition worthy of notice, and made big beards cool way before lumbersexual was a common term.
As we talked, Paul spoke rather passionately about bringing back the old-timey vegetables common to Appalachian gardens before kale began riding its seemingly breakless wave.
"You know like greasy beans and turnip greens." he waxed. Had it been church, Paul standing before his congregation of one at that moment, I would have stood up and waved my hands toward heaven. He was right, him and his beard. It was time to move on from the kale and beet rut and get into it.
I have succumb to such a rut in my own garden, planting provider and burgundy bush beans each and every year. To be completely honest, the thought of trellising seems like too much extra work in the manic rush of spring, so I go for the bush variety and that's that. But....mentioning this to Paul, he shrugged it off like a lame excuse.
Turns out it was. It was lame for so many reasons. Not only did my trellis look good and add some nice variety and height to the average rows of veggies, Lazy Wife Greasy Beans have proven to be OUT OF THIS WORLD tasty. Out.of.this.world: buttery, texture you can't imagine until you bite down on it, flavor without a ham hock (though I would never refuse a ham hock....). I haven't had an experience at the dinner table so satisfying for a long while.

This is an example of heirlooms becoming nearly completely crowded out by commercial varieties. Higher yields, sturdy shelf life and blah blah blah have plagued the world of seed diversity since the industrial agricultural "revolution".
Literally a handful of guys own patents on the anemic variety of seed genetics these days, and these very guys most likely do not have gardens. They own petri dishes and labs, but not soil. That is, not working soil with like, worms in it.
This is a sad reality for more than just the security of our food. This reality also tastes bad, metaphorically and quite literally.

Many commercial bean varieties are grown in Florida, but Lazy Wife Greasy Beans grow particularly well here in WNC, and not in many other regions. These were the bean found in almost every garden in this region until the home-garden-generation couldn't convince their offspring to keep planting and putting by.

The dynamite seeds (those with regional stability, and incredible flavor) became virtually lost with the shift of buying vegetables from the grocery store, and I personally mark this as the beginning of vegetables getting a bad rap (which may closely coincide with our nation's devastating health crisis.) Who wants to eat vegetables harvested by a machine 10 days ago from a region really far away? Nobody. Even butter doesn't guarantee a satisfactory experience. This is why children don't eat their vegetables: they came from the store, and from bogus seeds with not enough genetic history to make us want to eat them.
But my child has eaten portion after portion of these greasy beans since putting them on the table, followed closely by her parents. They are special beyond measure, simply simmered in salted water with a chopped onion from the garden and a slab of butter. Nothing else.  I will be growing greasy beans in earnest from here on, putting by and passing down to whom ever remembers the experience fondly enough to plant a row.

To my wise friend Paul.......thank you! To the hot shots with the patents on tasteless seeds....SUCKERS!

1 comment:

  1. Your child can be lucky....And that friend Paul IS indeed a wise man; more peopple should listen to him and his ideas, beard or no beard.....Thanks...

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