Thursday, November 26, 2009

In Defense of Green Bean Casserole

Here is a list of the five greatest American innovations of the twentieth century:

1. Rock 'n' roll
2. The personal computer
3. The Internet
4. Social Security
5. Green bean casserole

(The Apollo Space Program is number 6.)

That said, I take exception to this Slate article, in which author Juliet Lapidos argues that the fifth greatest American innovation of the twentieth century should not be a part of our Thanksgiving celebrations.

Each year, between 20 and 30 percent of American families prepare green bean casserole each year. But Lapidos has only tasted the dish once in her life. She describes her experience as such:

With all due respect for the usually superb culinary skills of the Midwestern friend who prepared it for me, the green bean casserole was a mushy, revolting mess.

Wrong. Try it again. Green bean casserole is delicious.

Regardless of whether Lapidos acquires a taste for the zenith of American holiday cuisine, her main problem with green bean casserole is that it requires canning a vegetable that is out-of-season by late November. She writes:

Our ancestors started eating green beans on Thanksgiving because it's possible to stuff them in an airtight container and forget about them until the apocalypse.

Yeah, I'm totally OK with that. If we're going to eschew any dish made from out-of-season canned vegetables, no one would be able to eat chili (which is tomato-based) in January or February. I can understand objections to cooking with fresh vegetables that are out of season, but canning gives us a means of storing and using surplus crops that might otherwise go to waste. Cooking in the cold months of the year with canned summer veggies is a good thing.


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