Revolutionary Recipe: Solidarity Beans

By Andrew J Pragacz

Beans, beans the revolutionary fruit! Beans are cheap, globally recognized working class meal. It powers strawberry pickers, retail employees, and radical action. In Puerto Rican Spanish, to put something in “beans and rice” means to speak plainly. There is nothing that speaks more plainly and simply when organizing than food, free food. This is what we, the organizers of a recent film series at the Bundy Museum, decided to do. Why did we spend the time, money, and effort to procure food for these events? 1) People asked. During several canvassing efforts in Binghamton no topic has come up more often than food. People always ask: will there be food? Best to answer “yes.” 2) It brings people out. Life is busy and expensive. There is little time in most schedules for attending politic events of any kind. Free food allows an event to fill the time most families set aside for dinner. 3) Respect. In every culture on the planet providing food is a sign of goodwill and community. 4) Feeding hungry people is revolutionary. Jesus and his disciples thought so, as did the FBI when they determined that free breakfast programs run by the Black Panthers were the largest internal security threat of the late 1960s. 5) Commitment. If there is one thing leftists agree on it’s that more basic human necessities should be free. Practice what you preach and pass out the grub!

Here is a recipe I prepared for all the documentary events. I picked beans because cooking beans for 50 is easy, cheap, delicious, and nutritious. Beans are high in protein and fiber, appeal to vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores. They can be eaten with chips, tortillas, forks, or spoons.   They also taste good with many different sauces and toppings. Here is my recipe for Solidarity Beans:

  1. Soak two pounds (or more if desire) dried black beans overnight. In the morning rinse the beans, dumping out the old water.
  2. Put beans in a big pot. Cover with water, and turn on the heat. The temperature depends on how much time you have. Put on medium heat if you have some time, if you are in hurry crank it up high. Remember: beans are durable and tough, like the working class. There is no need to stress over beans.
  3. Add in 1 large can (28oz) diced tomatoes, 2 diced onions, 1 diced green pepper, 1 diced Italian sweet pepper, and 1 diced poblano. This pepper combination worked well for our crowd because I knew older and younger persons would be attending, neither group tends to like hot foods. Add a few jalapenos, or other hot peppers to spice things up.
  4. Add your spices: 2 cinnamon sticks, 4-6 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon ground coriander, 2 tablespoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and some dashes of hot sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste as you go. Again, the spice combination depends on your audience. This combination produced a very flavorful, but not too hot batch of beans.
  5. Cook the beans for several hours at low temperature. The crock pot works great on high. If you cover them, they cook faster. Stir occasionally and if they burn a little on the bottom scrap that deliciousness off and work into your bean slop. It’s best not to pay too much attention to the beans. The beans don’t come out any better if you hover over them and stir every five minutes. The beans don’t care. Before serving, remove the cinnamon stick and the bay leaves.
  6. The recipe goes great with rice, salsa, hot sauce, chips, sour cream, or whatever.                                                                                                                         7. Enjoy with fellow travelers and passersby over a critical dialogue about the capitalist system!

A few notes: spices are less expensive when purchased in bulk (much less) or from a small market. The above spices are not difficult to procure (I promise) but if you have trouble, use whatever is at hand (i.e. garlic powder, paprika, hot sauce, bacon). The same goes for the peppers. User this recipe to offload old veggies: after 4 hours of cooking no one will know what’s in it (besides beans). That’s one more brilliant thing about this recipe: picky people will eat it because it’s unclear what’s actually in the bean mix after so much continuously applied heat.


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