January two eat the tops of the beans

One morning at the end of January in Tho Ha ancient village, she called to ask about her family, or her mother had just returned from the village, still holding a conical hat containing a bunch of young bean sprouts. Mom smiled gently: “This dish is now rarely remembered, but once you eat it, you will be addicted!” My mother’s reminder made me suddenly crave to eat this “special” vegetable so much… Back in the day, almost every family in my hometown planted beans (black beans, green beans, red beans) next to peanuts, sesame, and so on. corn, potatoes, etc. In the last days of the 10th lunar month, every family has started busy working on the soil, sowing seeds, watering, and fertilizing each row of beans. Just like that, in January, the spring weather is warm and sunny, the spring beans are slightly green and greasy. This is also the season of beans for the most fat, crispy, sweet and fragrant tops.

When I was a child in Tho Ha ancient village, I used to “cling to my mother’s shirt” to go to the fields. Only once or twice watching my mother do, I learned the “secret” of picking the tops of beans properly. That is to use the thumb and forefinger to press each bean with a length of ten centimeters. Mom said, this is the time when the top of the beans are the best, no matter what kind of dish is prepared. Like that, every year in January, I also follow my mother to the field to harvest bean tops. I often call it “lucky”, a special gift that heaven and earth have bestowed upon the poor people of my hometown. Along with the tops of sweet potatoes, water spinach, purslane, amaranth, etc., bean tops are my mother’s priority choice for meals for my family on difficult days. The bean tops are picked, sometimes my mother boils it with chili garlic sauce, when my mother cooks soup with crabs or shrimps… But I like the rustic fried bean tops with garlic that my mother usually makes. Thanks to this dish, my family not only has a full meal but also helps the meal to be delicious and rich.

The picked tops of beans are washed by the mother and then dried. Particularly the top part has many leaves, the mother rubs it lightly to make the leaves softer so that when eating, she will clearly feel the sweetness. Mom put a portion of water just enough to eat in the pot, put a little salt, put it on the stove to boil, then put the tops of the beans in the pot, using chopsticks back and forth until the tops of green vegetables were picked up in the basket. The vegetable broth is squeezed with lemon by the mother, seasoned with spices to make soup; Only the boiled vegetables will continue to be stir-fried. Mom put fat in the pan, sauteed with minced garlic. When the garlic is fragrant, the mother continues to add the boiled bean tops, stir well, add full spices, just eat, then turn off the stove, put on a plate. The first two meals with fried bean tops with garlic are fragrant, fatty, rich in flavor, so wasteful of rice that I ate a few cups without feeling full. Remember the time later, when I went to the university to study, my mother sent me a gift every week, besides rice, potatoes, onions, garlic; next to the fish shrimp; custard-apple, guava, … also have a bunch of delicious sweet peas wrapped in a piece of green banana leaf tied with a straw. Mom always said: on the street, you have to go to the market to buy everything, but in the countryside, you just need to bring the basket to the garden or to the field for a bit, there will be vegetables to improve when you miss a meal. Such simple, loving gifts from my hometown have gradually raised my dream every day. Now life is not as hard as it used to be. However, the rustic and idyllic dishes once from the top of the sweet potato, the top of the bean, the top of the gourd, … now sometimes become a specialty and are loved by many people. Simply because this is a source of clean, exotic vegetables, making the meal more attractive and interesting. Loving Tho Ha ancient village, loving simple things, everyday life, I appreciate the products obtained from the sweat and efforts of the working people, even if it’s just a vegetable or grass, like the tops of young green beans each season.

On the weekend morning in Tho Ha ancient village, walking through the market gate, I suddenly saw the figure of an old woman hunched over a few bundles of bean tops placed in a bamboo basket. Looking at me, she smiled and said: “Eat the top of the bean sprouts in January / I miss my mother with a painful stomach… Auntie, this small bean top is delicious, buy it for her!” Looking at her peaceful smile, I felt like I saw my mother’s figure in my hometown, and even more fondly remembered the sweet pea tops of the past!

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