Green beans are one of those quintessential Southern foods. Like okra or grits, most around here grew up eating them and love them. With the recent overindulgent, food fantasia, eat-fest that is Thanksgiving, the serving of the classic green bean casserole prompted my sister-in-law to apologize twice for making me have to be in the same room with the thing. She knows I hate green beans. Everyone I know knows that about me, because I make a point of making a scene anytime they are served to me so that no one ever forgets how I feel about them! All in good fun of course, but in using that tact, I’ve been quite successful in training everyone to never place that item on the menu where I’ll be served.
I recently came across this story written several years ago about my aversion to that green legume. I told someone I’d post it, so here it is:
The Green Bean Debacle, by Terri Burney-Bisett
Green beans, string beans, Kentucky wonders; they’re all the same to me, the dreaded green bean.
My mother loved them. In fact, I think everyone in my family ate the things. I learned to hate them. It started with just a dislike for the taste and grew into a psychological battle between mom and me. They appeared on the family dinner menu every week, and the rule in my home was you had to eat everything on your plate. There was no being excused from the table if you hadn’t eaten something. It was different if you’d had a large portion of say potatoes that you liked, and you just couldn’t finish. That was okay. But, if you refused to eat something you’d been served, there was no-way you would be allowed to whisk it into the trash at dinner’s end. You had to eat at least a bite.
And every week that one bite would be served onto my plate. I tried mixing them with other food. I tried eating them first and not prolonging the agony. I tried waiting it out, sitting at the table for an hour after everyone had cleared the table and done the dishes; Just me and my cold green beans. They stuck in my craw, and I would gag and have to force myself to finally swallow the nasty mass.
Understand, this was the 50’s and 60’s when the only thing my mom bought were the canned variety of green beans. Later, as new things became available, she tried the canned “French Cut Green Beans” (cut small like haricot vert, but not at all the same). Frozen green beans made their appearance at the table as well.
Then one day she announced that she had bought fresh green beans, and that I would surely like them. She had me help “snap” and string them. I was game. I wanted to please. But a green bean by any other name is still a green bean. And Mom’s beans were always the same – boiled in water with a little salt, drained, then seasoned with more salt, butter and pepper. I guess that would be nice if you liked them. Didn’t work for me.
By this point the psychological factor of hatred toward anything named “green bean” had kicked into high gear. There was a certain taste that to this day can still trigger a gag reflex in me that is unstoppable.
Mom accused me of over acting.
She refused to give up though. Even into my late teens and college days, whenever a green been was cooked at Mom’s house, that one bite was served onto my plate. Finally, fed up, I vowed that when I left Tara, I would never have to eat another green bean as long as I lived.
I was in my early 30’s when David and I met and we started going together. We spent every evening having dinner that we’d cooked together. After a long while of never being served green beans, he mentioned that he liked green beans and why didn’t I ever cook them? I said it was because I didn’t like them. He said I could cook them for him and I wouldn’t have to eat them. I was game. I wanted to please. But still, in all these 25+ years, anytime I have cooked green beans for David, he has accused me of sabotage.
For someone who knows how to cook, and likes to cook, I for the life of me cannot cook a decent green bean. I even grew some in our garden once just for David. They were attacked by aphids and didn’t produce. David thought I had a hand in that somehow, but really, God did it. Really!