Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A la recerche du temps perdue:

This story is exactly like Marcel Proust's experience with Madeleines, except for the differences.

When I was young, my mother sometimes served canned yellow wax beans. I have always believed that these are the most disgusting food that anyone has ever made me eat, or even offered to me. I can still remember the metallic taste, plus ... euchh ... something else.

When I was about age nine, I categorically refused to touch them, and I never ate them again. I've had nearly sixty years of peace from canned yellow wax beans. But recently, I got to thinking: Might they taste better these days? After all:
  1. My taste buds don't work as well as they used to, and:
  2. There have been a few billion advances in food processing.

I decided to cook some canned yellow wax beans, to see if, just maybe, they wouldn't be so bad.

So there I was in the aisle of my favorite supermarket, looking for canned yellow wax beans. And not finding them. That does it, I said. Evidently they were so bad, that they just don't sell them any more. Wrong. Eventually I found exactly one brand of canned yellow wax beans.

While checking out, I told everyone nearby about my plan to revisit this awful food. The woman on line behind me, about my age said, "They haven't changed the recipe." I brought them home and forgot about them for several days. Of course! Why would I waant to eat them?

I remembered them this morning. I drained them, heated them in water, and performed the great taste test.

Memories of childhood came flooding back to me. The beans had hardly any taste at all, but I remembered what taste they had very well, and I clearly remembered the titanic fights with my mother when I tried to refuse them. But that faint wax bean taste: it wasn't so bad. I'll tell you what I think:
  1. My taste buds don't work as well as they used to, and:
  2. The awful, awful metallic taste doesn't leak out from the can into the beans anymore. After all, there have been a few billion advances in food processing.

I ate a lot of the beans, actually. Now please, pass me a Madeleine. I need to get that yellow taste out of my mouth.

1 comment:

Martin Langeland said...

Did your Chere Mere Drain the beans and cook them in other water? It is possible the metallic taste went down your drain leaving nebbishy beans behind.
The primary type of changes in the canning industry -- which was a mature one before our fathers were born -- in the past fifty years have been bottom lines ones: using stronger, thinner. cheaper materials for the cans and lining if needed. When the basic process is to cover the vegetable in water and boil the container until it creates a sterile vacuum, there ain't a whole lot left.