It was a moment of nostalgia that led me to buy two bags of broad beans in their pods at the supermarket last week. Well, strictly speaking the nostalgia inspired the purchase of one bag; the two for the price of one offer led to the second one going in the basket. (And while I’m at it, the blog led to the picture, as I have rarely before photographed pulses.)
As the child of a gardener it was frequently my job to shell peas and beans during the harvest season. Everything would be ready at the same time, and all hands were required to lend a hand to the picking and preparation of the produce for the freezer.
From being very small I always enjoyed sneaking into the vegetable patch to check to see if the peas were ready, and would often pick the pods well before they were anywhere near ready, popping them open and nipping out the tiny little buds of not quite peas inside. Nothing is as sweet.
I was generally happy to help shelling peas, sitting on the steps outside the back door, operating the ‘one for me, one for the bowl’ principal. Broad beans were less enticing as they’re not so nice raw, but I did like them cooked, usually, then, with a touch of parsley sauce.
My parents are quite evangelical about gardening and growing their own vegetables, believing it important that we all know how things grow. I have a memory of a city child visiting once and my father taking us outside to witness the lifting of a root of potatoes, and the visitor not believing that the potatoes you bought in plastic bags in the shops were the same thing as these ‘home made’ vegetables.
I still like to know how things grow – new vegetables or spices used in foods in foreign places; I want to know, is it a root, a seed, the stalk ? Does it grow on a tree or straight out of the ground?
We have become so habituated to seeing everything washed and shiny, of uniform length and width, in plastic bags and containers in the supermarkets, stacked neatly for us to pick up easily without a moments thought.
They require little preparation when we get them home and the waste material is all plastic and cardboard.
The waste from my beans was the pods, and it’s true that the beans to pod ratio is on the low side; but it was the oddest feeling to have to put the discarded pods into the normal rubbish. At my parent’s home everything like that would go into the compost, but that option isn’t available here.
By the way, the beans were very tasty.