Thursday, February 24, 2011
Not all food memories are pleasant. Three-Bean Salad, that classic picnic favorite, has haunted me for more than two decades. How can such a harmless festival of legumes cause so much terror? Get a job in catering and you’ll see how something can totally turn against you. Picture this: a huge company picnic on a sweltering summer day, hundreds of attendees, a team of caterers and one refrigerated truck full of provisions. One of my duties was to keep the salad bowls full. We didn’t make the three-bean salad fresh; it came in giant food service cartons. Lots and lots of cartons. For some reason, the three-bean salad required a lot of refills that day. All those beans, all that vinegar… while I reveled in the refuge of the refrigerated truck, I did all I could to keep from getting sick. For years after that picnic, I could barely hear the words three-bean salad without wincing. It took even longer before I would even look at it. I did actually eat it once, not wanting to offend my host, and I will admit it was not as awful as I thought. While I’m not rushing forward to eat all the three-bean salad I can, I’m slowly coming to terms with it and may even try it again someday.