English Cooking: Baked Beans
The English aren’t known for their cooking. Or they are, but not in a complimentary way. And I’ll admit they have some odd habits, one of which is eating baked beans on toast. But who am I to criticize? I grew up begging my mother to buy a kind of white bread that I could, and did, squish down to the size of a packing peanut. Which hadn’t been invented yet, but I was ahead of my time. And yes, I did eat it. She’d never have bought it again if all I did was squish it. And I’d have sworn it was good, so I know first-hand that there’s no accounting for taste.
Still, it throws me to see an adult sit down to a plate of baked beans on toast and, with every sign of pleasure, eat it.
But that’s not all that happens with baked beans around here. You can buy a baked potato topped with baked beans. (Or with cheese, or cole slaw, or curry, or roast vegetables, or shrimp, which are mostly called prawns unless they’re small, even for shrimp. And the potatoes are called jacket potatoes.) A full English breakfast includes baked beans, not to mention a grilled tomato. A single can of baked beans includes enough salt and sugar to cover Wales to a depth of half an inch. In spite of which, people eat baked beans in industrial quantities and live to ask for more, and why not? They’re full of fiber, which for all I know mops up the salt. Half the canned vegetable aisle is taken up with baked beans. I’m sure there are all sorts of subtle differences among the brands, but I’ll only do just so much in the name of research, and tasting them lies on the far side of an extremely thick dividing line.