The Metaphysics Of Beans

As I noted last month, I’ve spent the past year losing almost 80 pounds.

In that time, I’ve discussed the issue with a few of my friends, many of them who like many Americans could stand to lose a few pounds. More than a few of them have responded “I could never give up…” pasta or ice cream or popcorn or whatever. And I do get that. None of them were easy for me to give up – and now that I’ve lost the weight, I indulge once in a while – but when I was in the middle of things, my response was and remains “nothing tastes as good as getting healthier feels”.

But I’ve gotten a response from a few others that’s caused me to think a little higher up the sociological food chain.

My mom wasn’t a bad cook when I was a kid – but dinner time was a matter of being together, rather than about the food, per se. There wasn’t a lot on the menu that had deep cultural or social significance for us, other than maybe my grandma’s lefse.

Dinner was about eating and family. Not pseudo-mystical connection to food itself.

I’ve met people for whom things are quite the opposite; for whom “foodie-ism” is either a nerd outlet, like being a Star Wars buff, or a pseudoreligion. Our culture caters to both; from the “Food Network” to the celebrity chef culture, there are parts of our culture that totemize, even fetishize, food to one degree or another.

Or that’s my theory.

I thought about this over the weekend, when I listened to “The Delicious Dish”…

…I’m sorry, that was an SNL spoof of NPR.

No, I was listening to “Splendid Table”, a show that used to be a pretty accessible recipe show with Lynne Rosetto-Casper, but has turned almost as serious-about-itself as “On Being with Krista Tippett”.

And I was treated to this:

Lucy Long: I lived in Spain for a year. Part of what I was doing was studying the food culture, and people kept telling me that I needed to go to the north of Spain during a certain season and try their bean soups. I was told that every village had their own variety of bean and would make these into soup or stew. And people who were knowledgeable about this tradition, they could look at a bean and tell that it came from a particular village. They’d spend a day, maybe a weekend, traveling to these villages to eat these beans.
I did go to one or two restaurants in villages and try these. To me, it was just bean soup. I was eating out of curiosity. I didn’t have enough knowledge to fully appreciate the distinctions that were being made. I wasn’t going there as a pilgrim; I was going there as a tourist. I could definitely tell that some of the other eaters were there as pilgrims because they were eating very carefully, they were tasting very carefully, and they were experiencing this on a much deeper level that just eating some bean soup.

And leaving aside the pretension in which the show marinades, it struck me – could the fetishization of foodie-ism be part of our problem?

Maybe not by itself: I doubt that people trekking through Spain to catalog seasonal beans are the ones getting Type 2 Diabetes.

On the other hand, I have to think the fact that our society’s been turning food into recreation, network entertainment, a social marker can’t help, either.

18 thoughts on “The Metaphysics Of Beans

  1. The best, and most iconic, SNL delicious dish was the Schwety balls sketch with Alec Baldwin in the mid 90s, how the 3 of them kept a straight face throughout that sketch is beyond me.

  2. Massive foreshadowing too, changing the school name from James Madison to Ceaser Chavez. How creepy…

  3. So the NPR reporter basically did a tour of places, each of which resembled the campfire scene from Blazing Saddles? ? Mas Frijoles, Senor Taggart? Pity she didn’t get some footage of that!

  4. Agreed, Splendid Table has lost its appeal – used to be the food Rosetto-Kasper talked about sounded interesting, this new guy natters on about vegan equivalents of dried chipped beef on toast.
    Rosetto-Kasper was decent enough not to inflict SJW crap on her audience, the new guy delights in reminding you he is a gay vegan who adheres to the Fairtrade/Equal Exchange guidelines in sourcing his food. His target audience is the 2 coasts.

    a good starting point for the week:
    3 cups dried pinto beans
    1 diced onion
    2 tablespoons molasses (not sugar)
    6-7 cups water
    1 can tomato sauce(optional)
    in a crockpot set to low overnight
    wake up to beans that can be used for a couple dozen recipes.
    sometimes I use a mixing wand to puree the cooked beans then use them as a thickener in soups, stews, shepherds pie, etc

  5. Im still stunned at the amount of right of center people who listen to Welfare radio.

  6. Way off topic; yikes at the burning of Notre Dame in Paris. I’m fairly shocked that (a) they didn’t have sprinklers there already and (b) they weren’t able to get more fire hoses on that. If I were living in one of the taller buildings surrounding the cathedral, I’d be asking whether the Paris Fire Department had adequate equipment for obvious reasons.

  7. Its early, but there are rumors, and only rumors at this point, that it could be terror related.

  8. It’s a safe topic and makes for easy photography. I get free magazines from insurance companies, cruise lines and condo associations. They all have similar articles: visit beautiful [insert name] and sample the local cuisine. Nobody ever writes about the local dirt track stock car races, ultra-light airplane park, skeet range, or nudie bar. I strongly suspect the articles are all written by young, hip, single women with journalism majors and cats.

  9. bb, this is just the biggest, most well-known target. This has been going on for a while now. Supposedly, according to a Danish blog I read, the French newspaper, Le Figaro had an article about how 1000 churches are being burned per year. To go along with the car burnings which are still going on as well.

  10. Joe: it strikes me that regarding travel and nudie bars, the Moulin Rouge and Folies Bergere get travel press, no? OK, there’s probably a few in Paris that don’t get that coverage, too…..

    JDM: saw that elsewhere. If indeed it turns out that terrorism was involved, hopefully this gets peoples’ attention. The alternative hypothesis is tenable–that it was just heat coming off workers’ tools–but agreed that it’s weird that it happens after eight centuries of workers fixing roofs, etc..

  11. Good for you, Mitch.

    I’ve been on 2 drug pressure meds for about 3 years now. My Doctor, who is 3 years younger than I am, is a marathon runner. He always politely works into our conversation that if I were to lose about 25 lbs, I could probably get off of them. I’m about 40 lbs overweight. After my annual physical last month, I decided to see if I could handle a mostly plant based diet, which I started March 18. I say mostly, because there are no sources of complete proteins in the plant world, so you have to add some animal protein to any diet. Mitch is right-it’s a bitch to give up a lot of stuff, but after a couple of weeks, you kind of get used to it. So far, I have lost 12 lbs, just changing my diet.
    While I lived in Texas, Louisiana was part of my territory and they have a staple called red beans and rice. I have made that dish once per week, just leaving out the andouille sausage, every other week and even then, I limit the sausage to four or five 3/4 inch pieces. I alternate that with pinto bean or black bean and lime rice burritos with sliced steak, avocado, onions and tomatoes, along with fruit and other vegetables. I switched out milk, which was toughest for me to give up, with almond milk. I can’t handle soy. I must also add that chocolate almond milk is awesome! Anyway, the almond milk is great in oatmeal and dry cereals.

  12. bb, I was simply reporting on the events without getting into the who-dunnit aspects. I simply found it ironic (and perhaps a little too coincidental) that two weeks after that Danish blog reported on the tens or hundreds of church fires in France, without so much as one word in the MSM, that Notre Dame goes up in flames. Mitch’s rule of waiting 48? 72? hours still holds, however.

    I will mention, however, that this is the tip of the iceberg of a pan-European problem. And against Christians.

  13. jdm, bb – a series of Catholic church desecrations (using sacred symbols, not just random vandalism), plus a 74% increase in anti-Semitic violence. Strange. Those Huguenots are getting out of hand.

  14. Bosshoss, for complete proteins, all you need to do is pair any legume with any grain. That’s why Cajuns love their red beans and rice, Mexicans love their beans and rice, Asians eat their soy and rice, etc.. is a great place to get some info on this–it’s the website of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, formerly the American Diatetic Association.

    (my late mother was a long-time dietician….I learned a bit from her)

    So technically you don’t need meat or dairy in your diet unless you’re under 18 and need the vitamin B12 available only in animal products (and I believe yeast). I enjoy animal products, and they’re healthy in their place, but it’s not a need, actually.

  15. Update on the cathedral; they had fire monitors going through the attic all the time, as if they were expecting trouble–but not, apparently, sprinklers that might have put the fire out before it really got going. If I were the facilities guy at a big cathedral like that…..I’d be looking into it, to put it mildly.

  16. The execrable Talia Lavin — the woman who, last year, was forced to resign from the New Yorker after she falsely accused a disabled vet of being a nazi — has written an op-ed for the WaPo smearing Ben Shapiro as a white nationalist because he said that Notre Dame was a “monument to Western Civilization” and “Western Civilization was built on Judea-Christian values.”
    #NeverTrumper David French (who was backed by #NeverTrumper Bill Cristol as a possible 11th-hour independent candidate in the 2016 election) has written a defense of Shapiro here:
    All good, as far as it goes, but being a #NeverTrumper, French has to finish with this absurd statement “I’m consistently criticized from the right for too often granting the elite media the benefit of the doubt. I do that because I know many people who work in those spaces, and I know them to be working in good faith in difficult jobs.”
    This is why French is despised by the Trumpers. No, the media elites are not “working in good faith in difficult jobs.” They are haters and bigots. The last honest MSM journalist left the media “space” with the last honest MSM editor years ago. Talia Lavin is representative of MSM journalists; she’s a not very bright, hard core leftist ideologue. An honest press would not allow her near a typewriter.
    The newer, younger journalists are propagandists. Their elders, the journalists of the Baby Boom generation, were exposed in their youth to conservative ideas. Many of them were from blue collar backgrounds. Not so these new journalists. They are rigid ideologues who passed through college after all of the conservative profs were purged. They are taught that their opinions are facts, and that half of their fellow citizens (at least) are deserving of hatred and contempt.
    They do not deserve the benefit of a doubt. How long will French continue to apologize for them?

  17. MP, that’s a lot of awful people – yeah, I don’t much care for Shapiro either.

    That Lavin person is, to me, more than anything else, sick. I mean, I think she’s offensive for the sake of attracting attention to herself is some psychologically needy way to be the center of attention. It’s a perversion of a fame-whore. Or perhaps, now that I think of it, she’s a sociopath, a watered-down version. Regardless, I think she’s “sick”.

    French is “despised by the Trumpers” because he’s made it quite clear that he despises them. He and most of the other writers at NR have made this quite clear for quite a while and they continue to do it to this day. They’ve acted towards Trump, “the Trumpers”, as well as VDH, Steyn, Coulter, and Derbyshire) as if they were threatening their livelihood as conservative posers.

    Shapiro, most of the time, seems like a good guy and then he’ll write something that makes one think he’s just a better poser than the NR staff. On the other hand, he is the person who got someone in my family to see the light, so maybe these posers serve the purpose of gateway drugs to being a real conservative. 😉

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