Thursday, October 04, 2007

Oh--you mean rice and beans are meant to taste good?

Well, I guess the "rice and beans, beans and rice" guy can eat his words. (grin)

Marsha of Hot Water Bath combined a post of frugal thought with instructions for actually making good rice and beans. As she says, it was never intended to be punishment food, and it's no less frugal or financially virtuous to eat well cooked and served food (even if it's inexpensive) than it is to slop up some "Minute Rice and a can of store-brand beans, doled out to the miserable hoards looking forward to the day when mom is allowed by [that person's] advice to buy a steak (with cash!) and they can all be happy again."

Not being in the U.S. or maybe not in the right church circles, I must admit I had never heard of that particular financial advisor until fairly recently. Fascinating, though--these things do seem to go in and out of fashion. I remember two girls in my Guide company (ca. 1978) saying to our leader, "Oh, our Mom's doing the More with Less Cookbook thing," and the leader nodding her head. As always, there's the freedom, exhilaration of feeling like you've done the right thing, but also the danger of ascetism, the struggle between external and internal purity, the feeling that if you give in and do such and such, buy such and such, eat such and such, you have just lost the Battle Between the Dark and the Light forever--oops, got a bit out of hand there. (Think hair shirts, right?)

I was always most impressed by the story that Buddhist vegetarian cook Edward Espe Brown told about visiting his grandmother, and eating her M&M cookies because she'd made them with love. It would have been so easy to hurt her feelings because of a principle...and look at the more recent story that Brown himself tells here about food--I just found this accidentally while I was looking up his name. He ends it this way:
"Come to your senses. It is not the things of this world, be they chocolate or brown rice, that lead you astray. Losing your way comes from giving no mind to what is present while chasing after imaginary pleasures which are illusive and unobtainable. To wake up is to know what is already yours."

4 comments:

Marsha said...

I've never heard the M&M cookie story - so lovely, and so true. I'm going to file that one away because I sense that it will come in handy, unfortunately.

So pleased that the rice and beans, beans and rice post resonated with you. Here's hoping for many lovely dinners result, in your house, in my house and in the houses of our friends!

Meredith said...

I have to visit Marsha and see what all the fuss is about!

I'm a long time listener (and neighbor) of Dave Ramsey. He doesn't espouse rice-and-beans for the sake of being frugal. He tells you to do whatever you must to get out of debt, because when you owe money to others, the money you have doesn't really belong to you.

In that sense, I believe it is more virtuous to eat a cheap (but delicious) food than an expensive one while you are in debt.

Mama Squirrel said...

Meredith, then perhaps the problem is more that people are misinterpreting what that financial advisor is saying? Kind of like all the CM misinformation that gets spread around out there.

SongBirdy said...

True! Living within your means is not about a martyred existence!

and I have to laugh as Rice and Beans is a special meal here. Mainly because I used dried beans so it takes some co-ordination to eat anything with kidney beans ;)

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