What is it about snapping green beans that says, “I’m starting a home-cooked meal”? Is it because we remember seeing our grandmothers do it? Is it because it was the first kitchen chore we were ever assigned?
When you think about it, green beans aren’t a universally welcomed vegetable. People either love them or hate them.
I love them.
Green beans are an honorary staple, substantial and starchy enough to carry a meal without potatoes or rice. The Greeks cook them with tomatoes, for a filling, provincial ratatouille.
And yet they lack the sweetness of carrots, the versatility of broccoli, the piquantness that led the Russians to call eggplant “vegetable caviar.”
Unless you buy the expensive, slender French kind, after snapping, green beans are kind of stunted and clumsy looking. They take a long time to cook, almost as long as the barbecued chicken they’ll accompany tonight. But we’ll be satisfied. I’ve rinsed and snapped green beans, and we’re having a meal.