Old Dog, New Tricks.

12/06/2023 | 0 comments


​I know they say you can’t but it’s not true. I’m learning new things all the time and I’m (err) a lady of a certain age.

I bought a paddleboard last year (went to Lidl’s for a tin of pineapple and came home with one, as you do) and can zig zag my way down a river now with the best of them. I’ve watched Strictly Come Dancing wistfully for years now and finally took the plunge this year, signed up for classes and now my rumba is as cringingly awful to watch as anyone else’s (but deeply satisfying to perform!) and when I used to make the cricket teas for my dad’s team back in the 80s, I never thought to actually pick up a bat and ask if I could play, but now I’m down the nets every Tuesday and I’m getting better, really I am. See – old dog, new tricks!


​I’m a huge believer in “give it a try” and can be heard shouting it frequently at my children when I put a new dish in front of them and it’s greeted with a curled lip and a wrinkled nose. They both hate mushrooms and avocado, but I refuse to be beaten. I leave them both off the menu for a good twelve months and then sneak them in, in a new guise, a re-invented fanfare of deliciousness to see if their tastes have changed, their palates broadened.


​Talking of broad, I used to feel that way about broad beans. My dad would plant a couple of packets every autumn and his excitement was almost palpable around this time of year when the first small pods were ready to pick. I would wander down the garden path and stare at the long rows of rather beautiful plants with their silvery-green lush foliage and striking black and white flower and wonder how such a pretty thing could produce such a vile bean. My heart would sink at just how many there were. It was going to be a bumper harvest.

​Sure enough, that Sunday, the kitchen would take on a rather farty aroma as the bright green little kidneys were boiled in their skins, turned an unattractive grey and were liberally scooped onto our plates. Dad would clap his hands in glee. I would vow never to eat another broad bean as soon as I was old enough to choose for myself.


​And, for a long time, I kept my promise to my younger self. Until about five years ago when I went to an early summer party. We were out in the garden, a Pimm’s in hand, painted toes on show, enjoying the thrill of the first truly warm evening and the hostess was passing round platters of delicious things. I scooped a generous dollop of a bright green dip onto my oval of sourdough and popped it into my mouth…and, OMG , the world stopped turning. Well, not quite, but my eyes opened a little wider, the birds sang a little louder and I started following the hostess like a lovesick puppy.


​“What IS that?” I swooned. 

​“Broad beans” came the repulsive answer. Don’t be ridiculous!

​But yes – that’s what it was. New broad beans, boiled BRIEFLY in salted water, cooled and PEELED. Yep – those guffy skins are taken off and discarded – and then the beautiful new little nuggets of goodness are whizzed up with a little bit of mint, garlic and olive oil. Well, well, well….

So my epiphany came after 30 years and my self-inflicted broad bean exile came to an end. And my cries of “give it a try” have become even more evangelical. Do it today!
​Take something you’ve always hated (and I’m talking about a fruit or a vegetable, not James Blunt – although you never know what a remix featuring Eminem might do) and mix it up. Re-interpret the little blighter and you too might just find heaven in a bean.



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