A view from my side.
I love being a Southerner. The temperatures down here are great. The beaches, the mountains, the streams, the rivers all offer great amusement and wonder. The people are friendly and most places you go, there is a small town atmosphere. While we are often mocked for our “unsophisticated” style, I know I can count on a fellow Southerner to help out should I need it. We are a tradition rich group of people and while not all of them make me proud, I proudly hang on to many.
One of those that I proudly hang on to is the simplicity of some of our foods. Fancy foods are great and I love to cook them, but sometimes I just want something simple. I love green beans. I remember “stringing” beans at my grandmother’s kitchen table when I was a kid. My grandfather would come in from the garden he had in the back yard and toss a colander full of freshly picked beans on the table. It was my job to “string” them before my grandmother cooked ’em. Snap, pull, drop in the pot. Bean after bean after bean, until the entire mess was done.
Then, my grandmother would wash the lot in the sink. She would add water to cover, a chopped onion, some salt and pepper. But the key ingredient was whichever one of several things she had in the fridge. Either a few pieces of ham hock, a slice of country ham she had cut into smaller pieces, some salt pork or fatback. Then, she would set the pot on the stove, bring to a boil, turn down the heat and let simmer until we were ready to eat. Finally, just before she would put the beans into a serving dish, she would drop a some butter into the pot, stirring it in to sweeten the flavor.
I still make green beans the same way most of the time. I know more and more people want to eat healthier and are steaming or blanching their vegetables these days. I understand that, and as a coach and someone who runs quite a bit, I too, eat healthier most of the time. But this Pot O’Beans is another of my comfort foods. Like Chicken Livers and Okra, it is something I rarely find outside the South.