For the love of mint

I am here to proclaim my love of mint. No, not the kind you grab from the host’s station on the way out of dinner, not even the flavoring found coupled with chocolate in ice cream (although when well done that’s a mighty testament to its power), but mint as herb, sprigs of it, rolled, then chopped and filling my kitchen with a fragrance imparting a sort of calm energy.

First there was the fresh pea and mint salad with shallots and olive oil concocted in my kitchen on an otherwise miserable summer day. Then there was the pea and mint soup on top of a mountain mid-snowstorm, after several break-in ski runs, that warmed and emboldened me and made me almost giddy. There was an early autumn couscous, sprinkled with mint, made for me by a friend in her home in Montreal. And tonight, it made my husband love fresh green beans.

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There were a lot of beans sprawled long and slim, but not too waifish, in our produce basket Saturday. I regarded them with a half-raised eyebrow, because although I appreciate them for what they are (a vegetable classic, versatile and nourishing) my husband will only eat (loud gasp!) canned. I’m sure it harks back to somewhere in his log of childhood dinner memories, but any time I’ve tried to impose the legume on him—nonchalantly, as though I’ve forgotten his dislike—he’s chewed through them only to be an example to the children. Here I was with another opportunity, a chance to cook these beans, to snap their ends with relish and boil them into something wonderful that would change his mind.

Tonight’s beans turned out to be worthy beans, infused as they were with mint chopped by Emmie (her first time with the chef’s knife!), a light dousing of extra virgin and some great-smelling red wine vinegar (I’m really liking Kitchen Line’s at the moment). Scattered amongst the tangle were a few red cherry tomatoes and a mess of thinly sliced shallots—easy picking around for the half of my family that doesn’t do tomatoes or shallots. Brian’s report was that he liked them, really, really liked them, by virtue of the mint and a mysteriously absent squeak. “That’s why I usually don’t like green beans that are fresh or frozen – they always squeak.”

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Goes to show, doesn’t it? The squeaky bean doesn’t always get the praise.

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