What do possums eat? We’re clearly filled with beans. From the U.S. alone, we have about 8 lbs of beans annually, per capita, and the current prevalence of Mexican cuisine plays no small role. The U.S. plants around 1.6 million acres per year. Worldwide production of dry beans was over 18 million metric tons in 2016, the top manufacturers are Myanmar (Burma), India and Brazil.
While once considered a poor food, beans are stored in high favor worldwide.
They are dried and transported on boats, they continued through a long cold winter, they are soaked or boiled readily and they stuffed empty stomachs. Beans are one of the oldest cultivated crops, providing a significant source of protein and nutrition throughout Old and New World history.
Fava beans were a significant source of food to the early Israelites and are still eaten mostly in Mediterranean countries. Old Testament civilizations like Jericho and Babylon consumed them every day. The Aztecs and Incas grew and ate legumes as a important portion of their diet. They were also employed as counting tools and cash, and seemed symbolically at weddings. Asia has eaten them for centuries, and Egyptians included them in tombs to assure voyage into the afterlife.
Italian Renaissance gourmet Bartholomew Scappi explained dishes of beans, eggs, cinnamon, walnuts, sugar, butter and onions in his cookbooks. Catherine d’ Medici of Florence was allegedly so fond of Italy’s cannellini beans, she smuggled a few to France when she married Henry, Duke of Orleans, later to become King Henry II of France. (You know those French chefs–legumes were considered under them ) If this story is true, we can thank Queen Catherine to get cassoulet, a French delicacy made with goose fat, duck or lamb and white beans. (When the Queen needed legumes, her French chefs jumped)
During the 9th century, Charlemagne (King Charles I) revived productivity to European lands that had been ravaged by war, ordering chickpeas to become a major crop which helped stop starvation in his vast kingdom,
Early American colonists cultivated multiple kinds. They have been used in soups and stews and may be dried to feed large families throughout the winter, when food was scarce. Thomas Jefferson enjoyed many distinct kinds of beans out of his abundant garden, experimenting with various varieties and creating new recipes for his dinner guests. (Well, okay, our foodie president did not actually cook, but he chased his French-trained chef.)
From the early 1900s, a guy named Henry J Heinz put canned baked beans on the map, both in the U.S. and the U.K. Today, Heinz baked beans is one of the most popular and recognizable canned foods on the grocery shelves. Surprisingly, the very best bean eaters on the planet will be the U.K. countries. Worldwide, a whopping 2 million individuals consume baked beans every day.
What is more American than franks and beans? Or chili?