The Tate: Legumes, a retrospective.


A minor side effect of anxiety is my occasional tendency to stockpile dried/canned foods to guard against whatever potential major disaster my sub-conscious is twisting itself into knots about.  Living in tiny flats has kept this at a manageable level; think “don’t need to shop for a couple of weeks” rather than “Crazy Cat Tinned Legumes Lady”.  Currently I’m curating a collection of chickpeas, black-eye beans, borlotti beans, puy lentils, kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, aduki beans, and red lentils across several different mediums (tinned, dry and frozen).  I think I have it under control *gibbers*, but madness is expected of great artists after all.

This pile of colourful items would of course be excellent for small children to use in paintings/collages if handed over with enough glue, glitter and poster paints. This was the fate of the last pack of yellow dhal lentils I tried to soak and cook.  Even double the cooking time wouldn’t reduce the evil little bastards to something edible, and reinforced my opinion that dried legumes that take this this long to prepare are what inspired the creation of canned beans, or failing that, take-away pizza.

A useful note for the UK shopper – most major supermarkets these days will have half an aisle dedicated to “World Foods”.  These are brands presumably commonly used by the local minority ethnic populations (commonly Indian/Asian, Polish/East European and Greek).  These are excellent areas to look through for bargain spices, lentils, rice etc, often much cheaper than the “normal” brands sold elsewhere in the shop.  Three tins of chickpeas for £1? Home-made hummus it is!


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