Friday, 5 August 2011

What we can learn from the humble broad bean?





I have in the past been suspicious of the broad bean. How can that be, I hear you ask. Well I had an inkling that even when you cooked them, you then really had to do something else with them, but I've never bothered to find out what that was. So in green grocers and supermarkets, I eyed them up, but they never made it into my basket and they never featured in childhood menus so I really had no idea what I was missing.

Being a regular Riverford vegetable box customer though, broad beans suddenly started to appear. What was I to do? I could hardly just ignore them and I hate wasting food, so as with all questions that I don't know the answer to I consulted the Internet to find out more. And of course, it was quite simple - it was all about blanching them. But was this going to make them more interesting? What benefits would I get from going through this process?

So I gave it a try. I took the beans from their lovely furry pods (how soft and comforting do those pods look?) and thrust them into some boiling water for a minute. I then drained them and let them cool and then removed their outer skin. I decided that I needed to know what the difference was, so tasted a couple of beans with the skin on - they were ok, but nothing in comparison to the lovely sweetness that erupted once the skins were removed. They even look lovelier - all green and smooth and bursting with flavour. And how versatile they are - they can be eaten as an accompaniment to other dishes, added to a salad, blended into a pate. Is there no end to their versatility?

But those beans also got me thinking. It made me think about what things we keep deep inside us and don't always expose to others. Do we too have hidden treasures and depth of flavour that we keep inside? Perhaps we are fearful of what others might think, or we have let that flavour lay dormant for so long that it has become forgotten about. Perhaps we have a public persona that we like to display to others and this has taken over. 

Is it time to peel away your layers and let others see the depth of your flavour? Is it time to take the trouble to look out for what's good in others and look beyond their outer shell? Perhaps the humble broad bean has something to teach us afterall!

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