The Toxic Bean
I’m sitting in the pub sipping on my third pint on a quiet Tuesday evening. It’s been a good night, catching up with an old friend and watching Liverpool destroy Bayern Munich in the pre-season Audi Cup. Suddenly I’m not well, my stomach starts gurgling and I’m feeling overwhelmingly nauseous. The inevitable happens, just as I make it to the cubicle. I’m confused. With a little over two pints, it’s certainly not from over indulging – it must have been a dodgy pint! I walk home feeling worse by the minute. I know the bar man so I call him to enquire. He reckons there’s no chance of a bad pint as plenty of punters have been drinking the same drink as me and are all still standing – he would say that though. I open the door of home and realize that poor Ali is sick too – oh God, food poisoning?! Even worse – self-inflicted food poisoning?!
On Sunday we enjoyed the most amazing falafel at the Dublin Flea Market at Newmarket Square. It was so good in fact, that I set myself the challenge of bettering it at home. Tuesday was attempt number one and with a glut of dried cannellini beans in the pantry, I decided to use these instead of the more authentic chickpeas. I soaked the beans over night and ground them up with plenty of onion, garlic, coriander, parsley and spices. Homemade flat bread followed along with a tomato and cucumber pickle and tahini yoghurt. The falafel were delicious, if a little under seasoned. They’re not quite as good as the Flea Market offering but it’s a step in the right direction.
As it turns out, numerous types of beans contain a toxic lectin. Although red kidney beans contain the greatest concentration of toxins, many other beans suffer the same fate. The only way to destroy the lectins is to boil the beans hard for 15 minutes before continuing to cook them in whatever way you wish. They must be boiled at over 100 degrees celsius however as simply simmering them may actually increase the toxicity of the beans. It’s also worth mentioning that since tinned beans are pre-cooked, they are generally safe and don’t require the same treatment.
So there you have it – having cooked and eaten all types of food, from raw fish to steak tartare and offal of every type, it’s a bloody vegetarian dish that takes me down.