Saturday, July 25, 2015

If you don't know beans, you don't know Appalachia

 Food, or a regions 'table' is what I consider an important  'cultural footprint', soup beans are a staple of the Southern Appalachian  table and an important 'cultural footprint'.

I have a cousin who lives in East Tennessee, who is proud of the soup beans she still prepares in her mountain home. I've often wondered, how many generations that tradition was passed down ?
 I found this article, hope you enjoy it.... 

"This is a story about pinto beans. But first it’s a story about my mountain people and one of our curious traditions. The Appalachian Mountain South is to the rest of the South what bourbon is to whiskey: It is distinguishable from the rest, yet part of the whole. That includes our food, which is rooted in our geography. Like the rest of the rural South, mountain people traditionally ate off the land. Unlike the rest of the rural South, my people live up and back in one of the oldest mountain ranges on the planet, where the landscape and climate are quite different. On a map, we’re in the South. In practice, we claim our own place.

Old timers quip that the easiest way to plant crops in the mountains is to load a shotgun with seed, stand on the porch, and blast it into the hillside. To survive the harsh and threatening winters, people preserve what they can’t eat immediately. In short, they grow it fast, and make it last.

Which brings us to beans. Starting with the Native Americans, every generation that has cultivated mountain land has known that certain types of beans flourish there. The Appalachian mountains were once home to dozens of varieties of nutrient-packed beans, including many that seed savers now categorize as heirlooms. When dried, these beans are excellent keepers.

Pinto beans, better known as soup beans, have been essential to the mountain larder since the early twentieth century. Yet Appalachian people didn’t grow their own. No matter how poor, they bought or traded for them."

Read more here:   If you don't know beans, you don't know Appalachia

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