07 February 2007

Impulse Buyer

Call me methodical. I love routine, the repetition of getting up, fixing breakfast, passing the same strangers on my way to work every morning. I’m secretly curious other people’s routines too, like do you get dressed before or after having breakfast? do you read before going to bed? Those little details can reveal so much about a person. Concurrently, I also like planning things, and making lists, though neither of those seem to have high rates of accomplishment these days.

Therefore, when it comes to grocery shopping, I’m equally methodical. First, there’s the taking into account what’s already in the cupboards, then the perusing of recipes for inspiration. I keep a little note pad with me where I scribble down ideas in the form of grocery lists. Sitting on the bus, I contemplate potato curry verses potato gratin, drawing up alternate lists. My bag is littered with embarassing scraps of paper containing notes like “rutabagas or turnips?” and “use up the tomatoes” (while there could be worse things lurking in there, this is by no means the glamour of a Chanel compact). By the time I arrive at the market, my fate is pretty much sealed, my mission determined. I get what I need, I do not succomb to the candies by the register. I am not an impulse buyer.

Except for the other day, when I was not only an impulse buyer, but an 8 am impulse buyer. Walking down the hill that morning, I spied at the corner grocer’s a large box of the most skinny elegant green beans I ever did see. “Loubia fransawiyya,” read the sign. Right then and there, disregarding my usual lateness for work, I decided I had to have them. Like a socialite to the latest Manolos, so am I to little green beans. Slipping into the office a short while later, I tucked my half kilo of beans into the back of the fridge.

That evening I knew only one recipe would do for my beans, one that my mother made often when I was growing up and one I haven’t had in as many years, green beans almondine. Speaking of shoes, this dish is like the stiletto of the vegetable family: skinny, seductive. Cooked green beans tossed in a nutty-almondy butter sauce, it was simplicity at its best. And proof that being impulsive pays off sometimes.

Green Beans Almondine
As with any simple dish, using good quality ingredients makes a difference, so use the best butter available.

1 lb thin green beans (haricot verts), trimmed
4 tbl butter
1/2 cup slivered almonds

- Cook the beans in a pot of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain.
- In a skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Add the almonds and toast until just fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the green beans and stir to combine. Serve.

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