Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Retro Cooking for Vegetarians - the Joy of Beanfeast

I was a rubbish vegetarian in the 1990's. I turned against meat and fish when 13, as a bet with my friend. Then just kept going. Once I'd got over the dreams of Grandma's meat pie, frying bacon, and home made sausage rolls there was not turning back. I became both politicised about meat eating, and well I was going to say sickened but grossed out would be a better word.

As a 13 year old living at home I used to eat a lot of bourbon biscuits, marmite on toast, baked beans, veggie pasties and meals with Danepak vegetarian substitutes (cauliflower grills anyone?). Then when I went off to the New World of Uni for the second time, (can't remember eating anything apart from chips and curry sauce or cheese toasties the first time), we discovered beanfeast. Me and my two friends, Kate - from Bristol and Jules used to make it all the time. And thought we were really cooking! Especially when we realised you could add ingredients, like kidney beans and chopped onions. Kate used to actually cook food like pasta sauce from scratch so think she just joined in to help as a veggie support thing to me, as we used to cook together. But it was great! We made chilli's with it, vegetarian shepherds pie, pasta and curry.

I was delighted when another vegetarian, Andy came to visit and showed us you could add real chilli's. It was the first time I could remember eating chilli and I loved it. I was still cooking beanfeasts all the time when I met lovely M, now husband. He used to shock me by popping in to our kitchen and just eating out of the pan. How decadent! Had never known anything like it. Was also very pleased with self in hideous 1950's fashion that I could cook a meal for a man.

It did make us fart a lot though. And sort of tasted a bit funny, although did not mind as least had cooked something. Oh, lovely Beanfeast you have not passed through our door in a very long time. In fact sadly have noticed it contains the horrible monosodium glutomate which probably explains why we used to eat so much we farted.

Eventually I discovered cookbooks, really not until five years ago though, when realised small children could not be bought up on food from packets, and neither should we. But still harken back to the good old innocent days of delighting in packet food. Course as a veggie don't think I stooped so low as lovely M who used to eat, wait for it, stew in a tin when I met him. Surely that was dog food. And worse, can you imagine what value food in a tin would contain?

Nowadays I still like to browse the supernoodle aisle and reminisce about eating them with peas and grated cheese with a hangover, or even better Pot Noodles for dinner!


Nik said...

That brings back memories. I'd forgotten all about Beanfeast until I read that. I don't remember it being particularly fart inducing, but it was a good bulky food-in-a-hurry, and a great quick spaghetti topping if you mixed in a can of tomatoes and sprinkled some cheese on top.

Richard de pesando MA(RCA) said...

it's a sad truth that most vegetarians I know are quite unhealthy, because nobody pointed out to us at the start that its actually hard work trying to make a balanced diet without meat, it's far easier to eat cheese on toast, margherita pizza, baked potato and cheese, and biscuits, and then some more cheese.

It took me about a year to figure out that vegetables taste nice and you don't have to buy Linda McCartney bollocks or salty fake meat stuff to eat well - that's why I think that they should teach cooking in school properly, for at least 2 hours a week, and not crap,like fairy cakes and scones - like they did to me.

tattyhousehastings said...

I know school cooking was rubbish - once we had to make a toasted cheese sandwich, think that was as close to a proper meal that we got to.
I had to remember Beanfeast last night after using lentils in a tin for the first time for a veggie bolognese sauce and feeling very decadent.
Course, felt more decadent on Friday after quiet girlie night ended up in me being drunk and announcing secrets such as can't believe am socialising with more than two people at a time!
The joy of my busy life.