The Science of Cooking Beans


The ayacotl of the Altiplano
occurred as food and currency, valued
since civilizations sprang from rivers:
the flowering plant food Fabaceae,
papilionaceous blooms like carob,
alfalfa; Phaseolus grows stems erect
or spreading, climbing vines, twining stems seizing
mediums. The center trifoliate
leaf cuts diamantine or ovoid shapes.
Flowers are white, tinged with purple or yellow.

Beans flourish with bracing—the three sisters—
the skeleton maize, the nitrogen beans
and the shadowing squash of dark winter,
the mound with buried rotten fish or eels:
imprint of Sacajawea minted.

Chickpeas, other vetches, old-world lupins,
the chronology of cultivation:
ground-bean, ricebean, moth, mung, common,
jack, horse, hyacinth, cowpea, and pigeon.
The seeds in the pod climb from furrowed soil:
dappled brown, black and white Anasazi –
“heirloom bean”—four corners farmed by natives;
the appaloosa: purple and gold foil
delaminated from the ivory;
turtle beans, ink black like an octopus,
meaty for burrito and Punjabi;
flat crescent limas, a delicate cream
molybdenum and manganese storehouse;
fava and cannellini for Italian
cuisine like minestrone soup, also
with chickpeas, the crux of hummus; these beans
distinguish chili and cold salads;
red kidneys brimming with lectin toxin
for Monday Creole and chili con carne;
the many varieties of lentils:
Puy is a turquoise-slate-colored legume,
split lentils or dhal used in Indian food,
green lentils require the longest cook-time,
brown lentils represent the most vulgar;
navy or Boston beans, Senate bean soup;
ecru pinto beans with darker streaks brown
for refried beans mashed and cooked in oil.

Add acidic ingredients such as:
tomato sauce, lemon juice, vinegar
or wine after tenderizing the beans.
Boil, remove phytohemagglutinin,
poison in as little as five beans raw.

Beans are high in protein, folates, iron
and complex carbs; other bean boons of note:
improved insulin sensitivity,
lower blood sugar, reduced appetite;
type 1 resistant starch for gut health,
functioning like fermentable fiber,
snaking undigested through the stomach
and small intestine, feeding friendly gut
flora that outnumber the body cells
ten to one — merely 10 percent human!

Store for years: dry beans, low water content,
sound from bacteria, mold and fungi.
The absorption of water molecules
pressure through the micropyle miniscule.
Soak in the sea against mythology;
sodium and calcium ions shift
within the brine, calcium a keystone
of the very large molecule pectin;
the integrity of the cell wall falls.
The skin flexes soft in an alkali:
one teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate
per cup of legumes cooks in half the time.
Consume 1½ cups of beans per week.
Baking the beans adds control and flavor;
absorption of aromas such as: thyme,
mustard, crushed garlic, onion, rosemary,
blackstrap molasses, sugar, and bay leaves—
a comforting dish for cooler fall nights.
Use Dutch oven constancy for larger beans;
subtract small pebbles or dirt by sorting.

Oligosaccharide causes windinesse,
sulfuric from bacteria teeming:
divers frequencies of fermentation
from a bevy of fortifying cool beans.

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