Story of beans

Story of beans

Daily in countries, there are hundreds of women use bean recipes to serve their family for health. However not all of them who know about the simple beans attached with the rich story in human history from the ancient time. Bean is name of a pod-borne seeds from Fabaceae (or Legumenosae or simply Legume) family. This is one of the largest seeds that include several genera of seeds, which many of them are very important to us.

We use bean recipes with some typical bean types such as mung bean, red bean, lentil, etc. We may think the bean species is very diverse. This is just a tiny part in the huge bean world that we can imagine. And many archaeologists and researchers proved that the beginning of this huge bean world bean or bean origin is from very long ago. We could find out some interesting thing about it.

Bean in ancient history

By using radiometric dating method – an important invention by Willard Libby in 1940,  many evidences from fossils showed that bean appeared in different parts of the world especially the America and Asia very early, perhaps thousands year BC. The proofs showed that bean was grown in Thailand about 7000 years BC; it was found in the tombs of ancient Egypt which showed the time about 4000 years BC; it was found in Guitarrero Cave in Peru about 2000 years BC, it was also proved to be grown and used in Asia about 1500 years BC…

Bean from the Old World and New World

After the period that we have to use the carbon dated method to know the age of things, particularly bean in this short article, the domestication and usage of bean was continue noted in different cultures by several methods depend on the culture. However, only after America was connected to other continents, bean became more popular, because many species of it were native to this continent.

We could have a little discursive note about this interesting detail. People used to make the line before and after America was popular known by the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492, the world before this time usually called the Old World and after that is the New World. Actually, this time mark meant that the European had begun their strongly affection to America and they also called this the 1492 even.

Now back to our bean, in the New World, the bean has become one of the most popular plants in the world. Bean was domesticated, cultivated and used in many countries in the continents. Because of its varieties, high adaptation and high nutrition content, with low price, bean was very popular as food in developing countries. But now with the unlimited creation of human, bean are widely used in cuisine with many bean recipes and other ranges like medication, health and beauty care…

Bean as crop

Bean, in human history, could be considered as one of the first plant that was cultivated as crop.

Genera of beans were domesticated and cultivated around the world to use as food for both human and animal. Each area or country has species of beans which are suitably, and some popular species will connect closely with the cuisine and their bean recipes of that area or country. With high nutrition content, especially protein, beans are used in many dishes from salad, soup, main dishes to desert. There are a thousand of bean recipes are found. Beans are the main content in traditional dishes of different countries, popular dishes are gram of India (use urad and mung bean), feijoada of Portugal and some former colonies of Portugal (use black bean), natto of Japan (use soybean), tofu of many Asian countries (use soybean) and thousands other dishes.

Beside the nutrients of the seed, the beans commonly have a special characteristic, is the joining in nitrogen fixation process, which comes from the bacteria in nodules on beans root. This process produces nitrogen compounds which help the plants themselves grow well. When the beans die, this nitrogen will be released to enrich the land, it’s then helpful to other plants. Perhaps that’s the reason why the early famers planted beans with other plants like grains and some perennial plants.

The bean is not only used as human food, but also animal forage. Many species give high capacity with low price, and so very effective for animal food industry. They could use bean seed to producing animal food or use its stem as forage.

Interesting and memorable stories of bean

The bean is so familiar with us in many stories from daily life stories, bible story or even fairy tale.

A fairy tale that must be very popular in the west was about a Princess who could feel a bean seed which was placed under seven mattresses. How sensitive she was (although it could be a little overshot to make the story be more interesting). Or story of Cinderella, who had to separate the mixture of beans to come to the dancing-party, where she met the prince and built a romantic love story. A fairy tale that was well-known is about Jack and the magic bean…

Another story which came from bible that mentioned bean (typically lentil) is about Isaac’s twin son: Jacob and his older brother Esau. As the law, the eldest son had the birthright and would be blessed by his father. But Jacob and his mother arranged to deceive Isaac – a blind old man at that time, with the lentil stew, Isaac’s favorite dish, and Jacob was blessed instead of his brother. Jacob used a lentil stew to exchange to his birthright. These two men then hate each other but in the end they come to reconcile and become fathers of nations.

There are also many great stories which mention the bean. They are not only interesting for children but also for the adult. Many of these stories were even made to movies. Simple beans but complicated they are. Simple beans but magic things they are in food. And we all now and enjoy the greatest bean recipes and relive the interesting stories of simple beans in the exciting.