Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Human beans.

I haven't done one of these in a while---a promotional cookbook from the stack I inherited a while ago. Previously we've looked at cookbooks from Swanson chicken, CreametteWaring Blendor, some booze outfits, Coke, a wok maker, and so on. Here, from 1980...

This of course comes from the Goya company, the pride of Jersey City, producer of fine Spanish foods since 1936. They produced this 44 years later, and 36 years after that I looked it over.

I like this book. The recipes are pretty straightforward, lots of bean faves like Hoppin' John, Three-Bean Salad, Pasta e Fagioli, and Refried Beans (or as it's styled here, ¡Refried Beans!). In 1980 Mexican, Cuban, and other Spanish-derived foods (including ¡Spanish!) had become quite popular already, but I think Goya was just starting to make its presence known to the English-speaking shopper. When I was a kid the Goya products were all in their own little ghetto in the supermarket. They still are, in fact, but it's a much bigger ghetto, and I think Goya likes it that way. If the shopper of any ethnicity is looking to make chili or paella or something and wants Spanish canned or jarred things, you go to that aisle and fill the cart, no temptation to try a different brand.

Some of the dishes are a little atypical, like Pigeon Pea Curry Dip and Spiced Meatballs & Maple-y Beans. Here's a recipe with red beans and canned mandarin oranges, which makes it one of the more unusual recipes, but I get a kick out of the name: Red Beans in a Sunset.

This would have been a reference to the song "Red Sails in the Sunset," a classic since 1935 but probably best known from Nat King Cole's 1951 recording. Everyone recorded that song at one time or another, and it would have been familiar to any American who picked up this book in 1980. Now, no one remembers it. Not too many songs are universally known anymore. They might have called a recipe Beanhemian Rhapsody or something now.

I love the look of this book. With yellow, beige, and black on heavy stock they made a fun book for people who haven't used beans a lot. I love all the little bean people that adorn many of the recipes, but they all have the same dialogue:

Because Goya had different size cans, but all their recipes used the 16-ounce can.

The Goya label has hardly changed in 36 years:

Although they do use more prominent Spanish and lowercase letters now. And strangely, the cans have gone down an ounce; the standard size is now 15 ounces.

But seriously, who else has pigeon peas?
Fortunately their English-language slogan is no longer "Goya! Oh boy-a!"

I can certainly vouch for the quality of their beans, so you need never fear buying Goya even if you are as white as an anemic polar bear in a blizzard.

Before we say farewell to Goya Class of 1980, let's pay one last call on the cartoon human beans that some nameless cartoonist inked all those years ago:

Cheerful bunch, aren't they?

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