By Ken Albala
(Berg Publishers, Hardcover, 9781845204303, 256pp.)
Publication Date: September 4, 2007
Whether refried, baked, falafelled, or complementing a nice Chianti, the humble bean has long been a part of gourmet and everyday food culture around the globe. As Ken Albala shows, though, over its history the bean has enjoyed more controversy than its current ubiquity lets on. From the bean's status as seat of the soul (at least, that's what Pythagoras thought) to seed of sin (or so said St. Jerome, who forbade nuns to eat beans because they "tickle the genitals"), Beans is a ripping tale of a truly magical fruit.
Ken Albala is Professor of History at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. He is the author of many books on food including Eating Right in the Renaissance and The Banquet: Dining in the Great Courts of Late Renaissance Europe.
2008 Winner of the Jane Grigson Food Book Award "Who ever knew that beans were so complicated and interesting. Told in fascinating detail by Ken Albala, Beans, A History, is an instructional book that reads like a novel." -- Chef Charlie Palmer"[A] vividly entertaining history of the humble bean."-- Raymond Blanc, Saveur"Lucky Beans, who have at last found their Homer. Who knew that the history of the Western world and parts of Asia, could be illumined through the evolution of the lowly bean in its multiple forms from fava to soy? No one is better equipped than this skilled historian to wrap history, science, legend, folklore and fakelore in an entertaining narrative that delights while it informs. This is the most digestible bean dish I've ever encountered and all I want is more."--Betty Fussell, author of The Story of Corn and I Hear America Cooking: The Cooks and Recipes of American Regional Cuisine
"Beans is a lyrical book. It is a tale well told filled with unusual twists and turns with surprises popping up in almost every paragraph."--Andrew F. Smith, editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America"Here is the first biography of beans, presented by Ken Albala in vivid prose. Gut-buster or aphrodisiac, lowly legume or savior of civilization, the bean is more significant than we ever realized."--Darra Goldstein, the Editor in Chief, Gastronomica