Posted by Tania Kindersley.
The mung beans are disgusting. Who eats them? I mean, really?
I have, as I have grown older, become very grumpy about people with closed palates. When I cook for the small cousins, during my annual month with them in the south, I always say they don’t have to eat something they hate, but they must try one bite before they decide. As a result, they eat my special green soup, and Swiss chard, and Cavalo Nero, and other things which many children would run from. (I am wildly proud of them, I freely admit.)
Because there must be no pots and kettles, and money must be put where mouths are, I must apply this to myself. I have never been good with pulses, ever since they forced me to eat butter beans and lentils at prep school. This once led to spectacular projectile vomiting. For years, I could not go near a lentil. But then, I cranked my mind open, and tried again, and discovered that when properly cooked they are things of beauty and a joy forever. I now love almost nothing more than a nutty little Puy.
I’m still a bit leery of the kidney bean, and even those glamorous little white things that the Italians adore (suddenly can’t remember the name), but I love a good split pea, of green or yellow, and the chickpea is one of my most beloved. The other day, I remembered the health-mad Older Brother always going on about the mung bean, as a perfect silver bullet of nutritional delight. Oh yes, I thought; that can be my next pulse attempt.
I cooked the little brown things gently in chicken stock for the allotted time. About half way through, they started giving off an alarming aroma. It had a faint farmyard quality to it. Still, I could not let myself be put off by that. I was brought up on a farm, after all. The smell of dung is the scent of my childhood. (As a result, I am not too squeamish about smells, although I draw the line at silage and oilseed rape.)
By the time I had finished, the beans looked like a brackish brown swamp. The oddly cloying smell was stronger than ever. I followed the instructions to the letter; I could not have cooked them badly. Gingerly, I tried a few, poised delicately on the end of a fork.
I mean properly revolting; the kind of thing you would eat if you were punishing yourself for some perceived misdemeanour.
So I ended up with a horrid pot of ghastly brown gloop, so nasty that I could not even contemplate offering it to Virginia the Pig. I had to throw it away. And I hate waste. Please, may we never speak of it again.
Now for pictures. It was the most glorious sunshiny day, but like an idiot I missed the light, and did not take the camera out until the gloaming had come. So instead of dazzle, you get a faint shade of blue. So sorry about that.
Up the avenue goes The Pigeon, her tail held high like a flag:
Trees and hills:
Wall and moss:
My favourite little baby beech:
And the dear old avenue of beeches:
Oh, oh, the beautiful gaze: