Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Useful Soy Bean.

Fresh green soy beans are pretty trendy right now. Call me a cynic, but I attribute this largely due to a name change (in the West, that is.) A consumer is more likely to chose ‘edamame’, which sounds exotic and oriental, rather than ‘raw beans in the pod, open them yourself’, which sounds altogether too aggressively healthy and fiddly.

I saw edamame on a menu recently, and this is what precipitated my mini-rant. It also made me realise that I have not given the soy bean much attention on this blog, apart from a few words on the role of Henry Ford in its promotion as an American crop. The topic, of course, is overwhelmingly large, and it is difficult to know where to start and what to include. A blog is not the place for an exhaustively detailed history of anything, but is an opportunity for brief and hopefully interesting, snippets on everything. I am resolved to give you, from time to time, a little on the soya bean.

The soya bean took on role beyond its nutritional value in America during World War II. Eating soy beans became a patriotic act because it assisted with catering for the meatless days encouraged by the authorities. I give you the text of an article in the New York Times of April 26, 1942.

“Eat Soy Beans for Freedom” is the slogan and theme of a current campaign sponsored by the New York League of Women Voters. The organisation is distributing a leaflet of soy bean recipes to non-members as well as members.
New and somewhat exotic by American standards, this prolific all-purpose vegetable is regarded by science as an almost complete food. Soy beans are one of the few vegetable sources of complete protein, and contain[s]as well Vitamin A, Vitamin B1 and riboflavin.
One of the recipes in the League of Women Voters’ leaflet is for soy-bean casserole. To make the casserole, soak one-fourth cups of dried soy beans overnight. Simmer in the water in which they were soaked until they are soft – about an hour and a half. Drain and mash the beans. Mix in one-half cup cottage cheese, one-half cup strained tomatoes, two eggs, two tablespoons fat, one-fourth teaspoon basil, one teaspoon salt, one tablespoon chopped onion, and one-half cup dry bread crumbs. Mix thoroughly. Place in a well-greased casserole and bake at 375 F until firm and brown on the top.

Quotation for the Day.

Inhabitants of underdeveloped nations and victims of natural disasters are the only people who have ever been happy to see soy beans.
Fran Lebowitz

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