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Bonkers About Beans With Kenneth Albala

Monday, 10 September 2007


Kenneth Albala, author of "Beans: A History" joins us with fascinating facts on the history of beans.

About Ken
Ken Albala is Professor of History at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. He is the author of seven books including Eating Right in the Renaissance, The Banquet: Dining in the Great Courts of Late Renaissance Europe, and Beans: A History. He also edits several food series for Greenwood Press, and is currently working on a textbook for the Culinary Institute of America and a monograph on food controversies of the Reformation Era.

Baked Beans: Britain holds the highest per capita of baked beans consumed per person. Huge class associations.

Broad Beans: Fava Beans: has a very interesting history, more widely used in Europe than anywhere else. It cannot  disperse its own seed anymore and is dependant on humans for propagation. The oldest archaeological remains of favas were found in a site near Nazareth in 6500 BC. Its used hugely in Egypt and its still the principal supply of protein to the poor in Egypt.

Soy Bean: Sometimes called the miracle bean / Cinderella bean- the soy bean is the most widely grown bean in the world and it's the most genetically modified bean. Few of us familiar with the actual soya bean and its very unpalatable. We are used to soya bean products, milk, tofu etc. It was first cultivated in Northern china 3,000 years ago. Soy is very central to Chinese culture and cuisine.  Its linked to Buddism and vegetarian cultures / cuisine.

Black eyed Peas:  "The pea fancies herself as a princess" discuss the misconception between peas and beans - peas are beans!!

Lentils: Ken believes that without the Lentil - the course of human history would be very different. It was one of the first plants ever domesticated some 10,000 years ago. They are no longer a wild species but are sturdier than in ancient times.