Tag Archives: food writing

An Experiment that was a White Bean Salad

12 Dec

“I repent of my diets, the delicious dishes rejected out of vanity, as much as I lament the opportunities for making love that I let go by because of pressing tasks or puritanical virtue.”

These compelling lines are from a book that I finished reading many weeks ago. This book is called Aphrodite which was authored by the famous Chilean writer, Isabel Allende. I picked up her book from my trip to India this year when I was scouting for books about food ( not cookery books per say, but books written about food in various shades). She had me at the opening line itself. Personally, I have had a love -hate relationship with food for ages. Probably it is only now that I feel quite comfortable in my skin and about food in general. Well this post is not about my see-saw relationship with food, but about a little experiment I conducted on unsuspecting folks to see for myself if there is any truth in the claims made by the author. I read the book in a matter of 3 days as soon as I had it delivered in my hands. I fell in love with the way she described food in all its glory and what it does to our body. We are what we eat – the author drives home this point with her sensual writing style that is so addictive.

The book talks about how food influences the different senses within us and has the power to awaken our sensuality. In her opinion,  it is difficult to really separate eroticism and food as one is inextricably linked to the other through memories and  sensual pleasure.

Also, some food is more Aphrodisiac than others, she says. For eg. vegetables and legumes have known to have fewer aphrodisiac properties compared to the meat and sea creatures. Infact, cleaning meat to prepare a sumptuous fare in itself is a sensual activity, she reckons. I do not think there is any truth in that, but it is my humble opinion. Having said that, I haven’t ever felt sensual trying to chop onions or peel potatoes. Maybe Ms. Allende finds it desirable to be flamboyant even in the most disagreeable acts of cooking which is definitely not the case with me. Anyways, this book piqued my curiosity more than I thought it would. Being a vegetarian (90% of the times), I thought I might want to give her hypothesis a little test and gathered a few vegetarian ingredients. I could have tested it with non vegetarian ingredients like chicken or such but I didn’t have them on hand when the urge to experiment was at its climax.

Now I needed some unsuspecting volunteers and calling friends home for a meal seemed the most plausible option. So I quickly tossed up a white bean salad along with other wholesome fare. The salad was much-loved since it was beautifully seasoned and looked very appetizing at the same time. Little chunks of feta cheese provided the much needed diversion in taste when the beans got a bit heavy on the tongue.  The meal also included other kind of wholesome food that would be considered aphrodisiac in their own right. Watching my friends eat with such gusto, I rubbed my hands in anticipation ( ofcourse only in my imagination). After the meal, they went home, without a clue about the conspiracy that they had unknowingly become a part of. Next day, I duly dialed their numbers asking them of how they ended their night, only to be disappointed to know that the experiment was a colossal failure. I could hear peals of laughter echoing at the other end of line and that only strengthened my resolve to try the same experiment with a different set of people. So I made the same salad for another set of people only to be embarrassed again. I feel lucky that I have a wonderful set of friends who understand me and wouldn’t lie to me because they know that whatever I do, I do with fair amount of seriousness. They also know that all the odd things I do are entirely in good spirit so that we all can have  a good laugh at the end of it.

They asked me that I should have tried the experiment on myself first before extending it to others. Well, they were right in stating this, but it wouldn’t have really worked in my case as I already knew what to expect. That would have given me the power to tilt the scale in the favour I desired at that time. So all in all, I still enjoyed tossing up this wonderful salad for my wonderful friends.  So to make the salad and test whether it works for you, follow my lead.

Recipe for White Bean Salad with Cherry tomatoes, Onions and Feta Cheese

Loosely adapted from the BBC Good Food Magazine


White Kidney beans, soaked for a few hours and boiled – 1 cup

cherry tomatoes chopped into halves – 6-7 nos.

Red onion (small) – sliced finely

Balsamic vinegar –  a little more than half a tbsp

Mint/basil/ Coriander  (torn) – for garnish( optional)

Feta cheese – crumbled

Salt according to taste

Pepper according to taste

Lemon juice – just a small squirt.


1. The boiled beans need to be rinsed to get any scum off it and they look neater this way.

2. Mix all the other vegetables with the beans.

3. Season well with salt and pepper and garnish if you want

4. drop crumbled feta pieces on the salad

5. Add balsamic vinegar and toss well.

So the world was a little more happy because of this  silly experiment. Aphrodisiac or not, this salad is lovely and refreshing and I feel it would be a bonus if it does anything to your sensual appetite. Try it and tell me if you felt anything!

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