Saturday, January 23, 2010
A Hill of Beans
Moving to the DR has inspired me to make a shift in the way I cook beans…well, kind of. Theoretically, every other Sunday I will cook a big pot of black beans and a big pot of red beans and I will freeze them so that I have four meals worth of beans (two of each kind) for two weeks. This is working okay. I am cooking up the beans on a relatively regular basis - although I really just think it's so much easier to use canned beans. And then again, dry beans are just so much cheaper. I guess I am faced with the ever popular American concern of which do I care about more - my time or my money?
But, back to beans - I had attempted the dry bean cooking thing in the US a number of times (well, two…I think), but I found that canned beans were just so cheap it didn't seem worth it. My nanny seems to think canned beans are some weird sort of American luxury, or idiocy, I'm not sure which. I have tried a few different brands of canned beans here and have found that the quality of some is pretty bad - I open the can to find not much more than a black, red or white gelatinous cylinder. But, they're not all that bad. There is Goya.
At home I always bought Goya brand. I still like Goya. We remain mostly vegetarian and I have done quite a bit of bean-related research so I have strong bean opinions. I used to shop at Central Market in Austin where I ended up choosing Goya because paying over $2 for canned organic beans seemed crazy and the Central Market brand canned beans, while organic and less expensive are disgusting. Anyway, I keep straying from my point - which. is. that. - the very same can of Goya beans here has fewer beans! That's right! Goya brand beans that are canned in the Dominican Republic are still a pretty good quality, but the bean to bean-juice ratio is noticeably different. I've heard the term "export quality" here - as in, "We send the good stuff to the US and leave the rest for the Dominican populace." It makes me wonder if at some point there was a conscious decision to put in fewer beans or if it's just a matter of slight manufacturing differences or processing style. These are the things I think about. Now I'm thinking about food quality and socio-economics. Perhaps best left for another post. For now, if you want to read about Goya's history and think about beans - do so here.