Full of Beans

I try. I really do. But life, as you probably have figured out, is not easy. Even something as simple as preparing a meal isn’t easy. I should confess right off the bat that I am not a foodie. Coffee, martinis, and bread are the closest I come to it. But I’ve given up bread, so now it’s just coffee and martinis.

I used to travel to Guatemala a lot and would come back with duffel bags stuffed with coffee beans that were grown on the side of a mountain by a volcanic lake. You should have seen me explain that to Customs. I treat martinis the same way. I prefer London dry, Junípero Gin distilled with twelve herbs in a copper pot still, a splash of Noilly Prat dry vermouth, Meyers lemon twist, and a teardrop of bitters. Not that I’m particular, mind you.

Food is a different story. I don’t cook. I arrange. The other night I arranged a dish with broccoli, chili pepper, mayonnaise, canned tuna, cumin, and lemon juice. Then I poured Borscht over it. I bought a jar of the beet soup at my local grocery store, because it was only $2.29 and dark purple. I like dark purple. Last night for dinner I had a sweet potato with molasses and turmeric. The turmeric got all over the counter, and now everything is bright yellow. I don’t like bright yellow.

Two years ago I bought a two-pound bag of beans at the same grocery store. I noticed it the other day sitting on the top shelf of the cupboard next to the grape seed powder that I’ve been saving for my French macaroon business. The business, half baked as it was (!), failed, but I couldn’t bring myself to throw the powder out. Neither did I want to throw out the beans, so I decided to cook rice and beans for dinner.

This time, I read the instructions, because I remember hearing somewhere that if you don’t cook beans right, they retain some lethal toxin that will kill you as you’re sitting there afterward, farting away. So, I soaked the beans overnight in water and made rice and beans the next day. Well, I might as well have been eating a bowl of buttons, because they were hard and disgusting. I threw them out. Undaunted, I soaked the remaining pound and a half the next night. The following day I sat down to rice and beans only to discover that nothing had changed. They beans were mocking me, thumb to nose.

I like to think of myself as a resourceful kind of guy, so I used my resources. I called my daughter, who confirmed that, well, yes, beans are hard to cook. My mother told me to buy a can of pork and beans and pour myself a drink. I poured the drink and then went on that oracle of oracles, YouTube, hoping that beans were a politically safe topic and that Google had not decided they were part of a Russian Facebook plot or transgender issue. Thankfully, they were safe.

After watching the videos, I determined that my problem was genetic. I come from a long line of people who do not like being told what to do, which can be a drawback in certain areas of life, cooking being one of them. Although I read the instructions, I did not exactly follow them. I abided by the spirit of the law by soaking the beans, but, as it turns out, the letter of the law is even more important, at least in this case.

So, I have to scale up, as they say in business school. Judging from the amount of beans left to cook, I will have to soak them in the bathtub for the next few days and then scoop out what I need on a nightly basis. This will require me not to shower or bathe for the better part of a week while eating rice and beans every night until my intestines explode or the neighbors report a gas leak. I suppose I could shower at the gym on campus.

The worst part about all this? I am running out of rice.

You want more? Go to Robert Brancatelli. Feature photo by It’s Me Neosiam on pexels.com. Note to self: “By giving him the unexpected freedom of a man living on his own, she provided him with a halo of seductiveness,” Milan Kundera.


  1. Laura replies, “Too funny!” “I could live on tortillas and beans, beans, as long as I don’t cook them. My adult children say they only got Shepherd’s Pie to eat when they were children, so no advice on cooking.

    Hmm…Martinis? Ask Susu about the Margarita in Mexico City. Dinner never happened. Susu put me to bed in hotel. She went back down to eat and the manager gave her a seat with a man alone at a table. No food came for Su, but man watched tv screen with some man and woman making love. No dinner for Su and next day she said “no margaritas before dinner!”

    Laughing, laughing, my best story. Robert, you have read, “100 Stupidist Things Ever Said?” My favorite books. I give it to people for Christmas.

    Keep writing, I”ll be listening. Be careful with beans, better get them at Taco Bell.


      1. Laura says, “1 granddaughter, Audrey, artist, one grandson, Austin, self-discovery, one grandson, Nathan, Special Forces, Marines, Island off Philipines.

        Laura says, “I had 6 sons. Two died. Other son, schizophrenic, in group home. 3 left.

      2. Ay, Robert! Laura was laughing an laughing about the grand daughter named, Margarita. It is a testimony to her sense of humor, and my slowness, that my aunt had to explain later, why she was laughing:)

  2. oh, its like “for the want of a nail” with standup about cooking. or “for the want of an egg” (a parody of todd rundgrens tribute to the old proverb.)

    i like it as prose, and the pictures dont hurt a thing. i also assume from your writing that youre fairly competent, and its nice to know there are some rough patches in your repertoire. i used to be able to bake, but i cant cook worth beans. “well done,” sir! or as aesops son once said:

    “you never miss the waiter, till the well runs dry.”

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