A second helping of beans and a smattering of proverbs

After the first great bean adventure, I thought I had the whole bean thing down and had been merrily regaling everyone, including my mother-in-law, with the wonders of our rice-cooker and its many beanifits (wahay!). At this point I should have heeded our first Brazilian proverb, ‘não conte com o ovo no cu da galinha‘, which is a slightly more colourful version of ‘don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched’.

I’m not good at estimating – in fact, I am awful at it – and we had family staying with us. I was a bit worried that we didn’t have enough food to feed everyone and even more worried about the consequences of bean withdrawal on said family. My husband and I have been living relatively bean-free since we got married but I didn’t want to see what would happen to my brother-in-law if we forced him to go bean turkey. So when my mother-in-law pointed out that it is always best to cook beans in large quantities and then freeze any leftovers, I wholeheartedly agreed with her.

I normally follow instructions to the letter, being that sort of person, but this time I was a bit distracted and put probably more than twice the amount of beans to soak as last time, as she suggested. In my previous (and only) foray into the world of cooking beans in a rice-cooker, I had used two small pots of dry beans and 1.5 litres of water as Youtube rice-cooker guru, Elaine Ribeiro, had done before me. Once I’d soaked the beans, I had no idea how much water to put in the rice-cooker so I just filled it to the brim and set it to cook.

Praça Mauá

My husband had arranged a family trip out to Praça Mauá in Rio city centre during the afternoon and my cunning plan had been to make the most of the peace and quiet to breathe, put some washing on and cook my beans. But this was not to be. As it transpired, our neighbours were having an impromptu early afternoon barbecue in the alley outside their house and invited the whole family round to join them.

Nylon Panties

I was promptly presented with a glass of what looked like a strawberry-flavoured yoghurt drink but what turned out to be a caipirinha variant called Calcinha de Nylon (Nylon Panties). To me it also tasted like a strawberry-flavoured yoghurt drink with an extremely sweet cachaça kick, but I have never eaten any nylon clothing of any sort so maybe I missed some similarities. This may or may not have affected my judgment. My neighbour assured me that it was very weak (as she filled my glass to the brim), but then she also invited me to go dancing during Carnival in the Pinto Sarado block (loosely and cleanly translated as Hench Chick), but I don’t know how many Nylon Panties she had already consumed before we arrived.

The Hench Chick himself

As the afternoon turned into evening, it slowly dawned on me that the trip to Praça Mauá was well and truly off the cards and I popped back to ours to check on the beans, leaving everyone else to continue making merry in the alleyway. I discovered that the beans had also been having a whale of a time; there was dark purpley brown bean juice all over the shelf, the washing machine and the floor.

[My husband later told me that he had walked into the kitchen to find “a river of beans” and I didn’t even get half the original effect because he’d already cleared up the mess before I got there. He must have been so traumatised by the distressing scenes that he omitted to mention to me at the time that anything was amiss.]

Happily, the beans were not beyond remedy. The Brazilian proverb ‘é melhor prevenir do que remediar‘ (prevention is better than cure) should have come to mind at this point or perhaps, more appropriately, the British saying ‘measure once and cook once: don’t measure at all and face beanageddon’.

I swiftly put my Brownie training to excellent use, remaining calm in the face of a culinary crisis and earning my Hostess Badge twice over: I divided the remaining beans into two pans and set one lot to finish cooking, cleared up the mess, hung out the washing and discreetly returned to the fray as if nothing untoward had happened.

The greatly coveted Hostess Badge

To round off the bean adventure nicely, we ended up staying at the early afternoon barbecue until 10pm, whereupon we were all invited to the afterparty, hosted by our neighbours’ three year old niece, and never even ate dinner.

All was not lost, however, as I now have a couple of litres of beans in my freezer and some life lessons under my metaphorical belt:

  • Read the instructions and then
  • Follow the instructions
  • Accept that no-one will die if they don’t have beans with every meal
  • Be prepared for every eventuality
  • Avoid Nylon Panties; they are bad for your health

This post was originally published on the 26th of December 2016 and has been transferred from my previous blog (Brazil from the outside in hosted by Blogger) after some technical difficulties with the site.

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