Who discovered that you can boil the toxins out of kidney beans?

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who on earth discovered that if you boil the very toxic kidney bean rapidly for at least 10 minutes you can then eat it ??? [:o]

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« Last Edit: 03/06/2008 12:30:10 by BenV »



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I doubt anybody will ever know, so here is my personal wild speculation.

Back in prehistoric times, there was a tribe who knew all too well about the poisonous properties of kidney beans.

In this tribe there was a brutal warrior who we shall call Eric.  Eric would come home and beet his wife, and generally abuse his wife.  For ease of identification, we shall call his wife Anna.  So one day, Anna thought she would have her revenge upon this brutal husband of hers, so she cooked his favourite dish, a strong chilli, but put some poisonous kidney beans into the dish, absolutely certain this would do the job.

Anna served Eric his supper, and watched him eat every last mouthful.  When he had eaten it all, she thought she would add the coup de grace, she would tell him about the poison, so he would know how his slow and painful death would come about, and she could watch his mental anguish as he contemplated his forthcoming death.

The brave warrior cursed and swore at his wife, but then fell silent and started to sob as he understood his fate.  He then went to his bed, fearing the worse.

Eric awoke the following morning feeling healthy and bright, and he realised he was not going to die.  So Eric went to his wife, and told her that the the Gods had protected him from her evil doings.

Eric now decided his Anna must pay for her misdeeds, so he threw her out into the wilderness, where there was no food to be had, but he gave her a large bag of kidney beans, knowing that when hunger finally overtook her, she would eat the beans, and the Gods would not protect her as they had protected him.

So Anna walked out into the wilderness until she found some water, but could not find anything to eat.  So, as the cold of the night began to draw in, she lit herself a fire, and sat huddled, miserable, and hungry.  She felt the bag of beans next to her, and thinking that if she cooked the beans for herself, as she had done for her husband, they might kill her, but then again, the Gods may take pity on her too, and let her live as they let her husband live.  So, she cooked the beans, and ate them, and indeed the Gods did smile upon her, and she lived.

The following morning Anna awoke, and the Gods had smiled upon her, for she had lived, but it was a short respite, for she nothing more to eat, today, or tomorrow, or the next day.

Anna knew she had to find some people who would take her in, who would feed her and give her shelter; but she also knew that if she approached another village, they would know that if she was wondering the wilderness, then she must be an outcast, and so must be an evil person.  But Anna had an idea, and though it was a dubious idea, it was at least worth a try, since she had little left to lose.

So she walked all the next day, and as night fell, she again stopped to sleep.  She had no food, and no water, and she was hungry and thirsty.  She knew she was near a village, but thought it best to wait until morning before approaching the village.

Next morning, she approached the village.  As she approached the village, all the dogs started to bark, and the villagers came out of their huts to see what all the fuss was about.  As she entered the village, all the women of the village started to shout abuse, and then the rock throwing started.  Anna raised her hand in the air, and shouted with all the voice she could muster in her weakened state: “Please hear me! I am not evil, but I have been wronged.  Please believe me.  If you cannot see with your own eyes, then I beg you to let the Gods judge me, for the Gods will not lie.”

At this, the villagers fell silent, for if this stranger asked to be judged by the Gods, how could they refuse, for the Gods would be fair and honest, and if woman was indeed an evil person, the Gods would punish her themselves, for Gods would not allow themselves to be mocked by a charlatan.

Anna now continued: “Make me a stew full with poisoned beans; and if the Gods shall find me guilty, then they shall punish me, but if they shall find me innocent of all evil, then they shall let me live.”

Anna was lead into a hut, while the villagers discussed her plea in the village square.  In the end, they decided it was a fair request to make, and so the village high priest came into the hut where Anna was being held, and told that, if she so wished, they would giver her poisoned beans, and if she lived, then the Gods would have given their judgement.

Anna looked at them with resolution but with a pitiful look in her eyes, and said: “But you cannot have the Gods judge me with hunger in my stomach, for they must see that you have been generous and welcoming to a stranger.  You must give me a filling stew, and cook the beans into the stew, so that when I am to meat the Gods, and plead my case, I might do so with the fortification of a full stomach”.

The priest and the village elders looked at each other in astonishment.  Was it not enough that they had allowed this woman a hearing with the Gods, and that she now demanded to be fed as well.  But, in the end, they relented, and allowed that they would cook the beans in the stew.

So, with Anna sitting quietly in the corner of the hut, a couple of the village woman sat by the fire cooking a delicious stew, and adding to is the beans as they cooked.  The smell of the stew was itself like the smell of heaven to Anna's nose, as she had now not eaten for two days, and then only a bag of beans, which were themselves producing so much gas in her belly that she could have fuelled her own cooking stove with the gasses she emitted (although it should be said that it would be many millennia before anyone were to invent the gas fuelled cooking stove).  Nonetheless, Anna sat quietly in the corner, not betraying any emotion, and awaiting to see what the Gods, and fate, had in store for her; for even if the Gods allowed her to live (and by now, Anna was becoming ever more confident that it would be so), she could not say what would happen to her after that.

In due course, the stew was placed before Anna, who then ate is as demurely as her famished state would allow her.  She then thanked her hosts, and asked if she could now sleep, and in the morning, they shall know how the Gods had judged her.

In the morning, the priest and the elders entered the hut where they had left Anna.  Anna was already awake, sitting on the floor and waiting for them.  The visitors stood a moment in the doorway, not quite sure if they believed their own eyes, having fully expected to find the stranger in their midst to be but a corpse, but they quickly recovered their poise, and entered the hut.  Anna smiled, and quietly stood up, with her head bowed in respect of the esteemed office of her visitors.  She quietly said: “So the gods have spoken.  Will you believe that there is no evil in my soul.  Will you believe that I am a wronged woman”.

The priest pause for a moment, and then thoughtfully replied: “The Gods have spoken.  We cannot disbelieve the Gods.”.  With this the priest and the elders left the hut, and Anna sat down again, for now she had no idea what would happen to her next.  She had passed the first test, but what would the villagers decide to do with her.

The priest and the elders were also in a quandary.  What could they do with this stranger.  The Gods had sent this stranger to them, and they had clearly shown them that this stranger was without sin, so what now did the Gods expect them to do with this stranger.  It was clear that the stranger had no family, nobody who could accept a bride price for her; and in any case she was a little bit too old to marry.  In the end, the priest decided that it was clear what the Gods had wanted.  This woman was innocent of all sin, so she should join the elite band of temple prostitutes.

When Anna heard her fate, her heart leapt for joy, for it was the highest privilege any woman could attain to be chosen as a temple prostitute.  Ofcourse, Anna showed no outward emotion, for it was considered ill manners to show pleasure or displeasure at the will of the Gods, and the Gods had indeed smiled upon Anna, for it was but 4 days ago that she was the most wretched of wives, and but 3 days ago that she had been cast into the wilderness thinking she had but days to live; and now she knew that her future was assured.  As a temple prostitute, she would never know hunger, nor would be be beholden to any man, nor have to labour.  She would lay with the bravest of the warriors when they return from battle, but she would never be their wife, never have to be at their beck and call.  She would have the temple servants cook for her, and see to her worldly comforts.

So life was good for Anna, and Anna was well fed, so she became ever fuller in her figure, and the worriers who came to visit her thought her ever more beautiful as her figure become rounder and softer.

One of the warriors who regularly showed bravery in battle was John.  John may well have been Anna's favourite, except that Anna was a servant of the Gods, so was not allowed favourites.  John already had two wives, but he was so highly regarded as a warrior in the village that it was though right that he should take himself a third wife.  So John went to the neighbouring villages to find himself another wife.  He found a young, vivacious, girl called Maria.  Maria was a bit to skinny, but if John treated her well, he was sure she would fill out well.  Maria could also be a little headstrong, and even reckless at times.  Nonetheless, she came from a good family, and it was thought that having Maria as a bride would be politically useful to John.  So a price was agreed, and Maria returned with John to be his wife.

Maria was in fact Eric's niece, and she had never liked Anna even before the incident with the beans.  Truth be told, she thought Anna was detestable and evil, and was not at all surprised when she heard that Anna had tried to poison Eric, and the fact that the Gods had protected Eric only reinforced her opinion that Anna was evil.

Ofcourse, there was almost no chance that Maria and Anna would meet, for apart from the temple servants, no woman was ever allowed inside the temple.  Nonetheless, the arrival of Anna in the village was part of the village folklore, and sooner or later Maria would come to hear of it.  Even then, Maria did not immediately connect this wondrous stranger with the evil Anna, but as she heard descriptions of her, and she learnt when it was that this wondrous stranger arrived, it crept into Maria's mind that this stranger might in fact be Anna.  She could at first scarcely believe it, for how could this woman who was the most virtuous of women also be the same evil Anna she had known in her childhood.  Nonetheless, the thought kept nagging away at her, until one day she finally determined to sate her curiosity one way or the other.

Thus, one day, Maria crept into the grounds of the temple to find this mysterious woman.  As Maria was walking through the grounds, so Anna stepped out of the door into the grounds.  There was a moment of incomprehension for them both, and then, despite the years since they had last seen each other, there was instant recognition.  Anna screamed, and Maria instantly turned and ran.  The priest came running to see what all the ruction was.  As the priest ran towards the temple, he bumped into Maria running out of the temple grounds.  He grabbed Maria by the wrist, and held her, and demanded to know why she was in the temple, knowing it was forbidden to her.  Maria, flustered, and struggling to compose herself, blurted out “there's a witch in there”.  The priest demanded “Show me”.  Maria was about to lead the priest back into the temple, when the priest commanded: “Stop! You know you are not allowed in there.  I shall go in and see for myself; you wait here”, and he motioned for Maria to wait by the entrance to the temple grounds, while he entered the grounds to investigate.

Maria stood obediently where she had been commanded, with fear washing though every corner of her mind.  Maria had done some reckless things in her childhood, but she was no longer a child, and she knew all too well that invading the sanctity of the temple grounds was a serious transgression against the Gods, and could not be seen to go unpunished.

The priest meanwhile sought out Anna, and asked her what had happened.  Anna explained that she had been startled by an evil looking woman in the grounds, and in a moment of terror, had panicked.  This was so unlike Anna, and the priest knew it, for Anna was the most level headed of women, and never showed undue emotion, but he had to accept that there could be no other explanation.

The priest returned to Maria, and angrily retorted “I saw no witch in there”.

Maria insisted “I saw a witch. I know she is a witch, she is from my village, and she tried to murder her husband, so I know she is a witch.”

The priest demanded: “describe her to me.”

Maria proceeded to describe Anna, adding that she had been skinnier when she last saw her, but she knew it was the same witch.

The priest, in amazed disbelief, exclaimed: “the person you are describing is one of our temple prostitutes”.

“Yes” was Maria's sharp response.

For one of the very few times in his life, the priest felt his anger get the better of him as he slapped Maria across the face, and exclaimed “how dare you refer to one of the most holy servants of the Gods in that way”.

“She is” insisted Maria.

The priest slapped her again, but they were now both speechless with rage and confusion.

The priest knew that this behaviour merited the most severe of punishments, but this was a wife of one of the most esteemed warriors in the village, so this was going to be a delicate matter.  He dragged Maria back to John's hut, and then briefly explained to John what had taken place, as John listened with increasing disbelief that his wife could have been so stupid.  Maria meanwhile remained quite, feeling at once angry, frightened, and confused.

John turned to Maria and asked her to explain herself.

Maria explained how Anna was her aunt, and how she had tried to poison her uncle, and had been cast out from her village.

The priest interjected: “but the woman was wronged; the Gods showed us that she had been wronged.”.

Maria, trying for once in her life to be as calm and reasonable as she could, asked “what sign did the Gods give you that she had been wronged”.

So the priest with, exasperated patience, explained how Anna had eaten the stew laced with kidney beans, and the Gods had spared her life, and so they had shown that Anna was free of sin.

Suddenly it all made sense.  Maria thought back to the kidney beans that Anna had put in her uncle's stew, and he had not died, and suddenly she understood everything; but how was she going to explain this.

“Let the Gods test me” demanded Maria, “Let me take the same test that Anna took, and I will show you that I too am free of sin”.

Suddenly a great weight had been lifted from the priest shoulders.  No longer would he have the difficult task of having to pass judgement on the wife of one of the most esteemed men of the community.  It will now be in the lap of the Gods, and was no longer his responsibility.

So, calmly, the priest agreed that it be so, and John, speechless, had to nod his agreement also.

So it was that arrangements were made for Maria to undergo the test.  Anna knew nothing of what was happening, for the minds of the servants of the Gods should not be worried with worldly concerns, but she knew something was happening, and whatever it was, she could feel in every bone of her body that she had something to fear from whatever was to come.

John hugged Maria as she was lead away, and cried as he said his tender goodbyes, but Maria tried to reassuringly smile, and told him she would be back the following day, when it was all over.  He did not believe her, although he wished he could.

So, Maria ate the stew laced with beans, and then sat down to do her sewing that she had brought with her.  Next morning, the priest entered the hut where Maria had spent the night, to find Maria laying across the floor.  Suddenly he started as Maria slowly stirred, and rubbed the sleep from her eyes.  To his disbelief, Maria sat up.  She smiled, and asked, with maybe, although the priest could not be quite sure, the slightest note of irony in her voice: “Have the gods spoken?”

The priest nodded, and quietly whispered “the Gods have spoken.”.

What was he to do now.  Maria and Anna cannot both be right, yet the Gods had given them both their blessing.  What could the  priest read into that.

For once in his life, he indiscreetly uttered what he was thinking: “how can it be that the Gods have favoured you, and favoured too the one you call a witch?”.

Maria was fearful to say what she thought, for she was not at all sure how it would be received.  But in the end, Maria had never been able to be discreet about anything, and she was not about to change now, so she said in a quiet monotone “the Gods have not chosen either of us.  There is nothing to fear from the poison of the beans once the poison has been driven out of them.  When the beans are cooked, the poison is driven out with the steam, so there is no poison left in the beans”.

“What are you saying” enquired the priest in amazement.

“Anyone can eat beans with the poison driven out.” replied Maria, no a little more confident of her ground.  “I can eat as much as I want of those beans; you can eat of the beans; my husband can eat of those beans.  If the poison have been chased out by the cooking, then anyone can eat those beans”.

The priest was perplexed.  He was trying to digest what was being said.  He walked away without saying anything, while Maria, now free to go, ran joyfully back to her husband.

Meanwhile, while the priest was trying to decide what he had to do now, rumours of what had happened, and what had been said, were circulating like wildfire around the village.  It was now becoming apparently clear, however reluctant the priest was to admit it, that Anna had made fools of the Gods, and this was without question, and unpardonable offence.  As it happened, events were moving faster than the priest could control, for the rumours racing around the village had lead to a mob baying for blood, and Anna was hauled out of the temple, and was being stoned to death by the crowd.


Offline Carolyn

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.........poor Anna.


Offline neilep

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George !!..Phew !!...wonderful post !!

...but I believe Nat King Cole actually  discovered the wonderful use of kidney Beans !..He then went on to sing their praises as a chief ingredient of Chili Con Carne  in the most wonderful rendition ever !! http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ApbGsQAsWOY
Men are the same as women, just inside out !


Offline Karen W.

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WOW George how sad and what a excellent post as Neil stated .. very cool!

Neily That is a great song! LOL I like food songs! LOL! I honestly do not recall there ever

being the chili con carne kine..LOL
« Last Edit: 10/10/2007 12:23:35 by Karen W. »

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Offline rosalind dna

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Good story but so sad for Anna, although the fact that cooking removes the poisons not only from Kidney Beans also Potatoes as
raw ones are very poisonous. So are the grean bits too.
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Offline Bored chemist

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Raw potatoes are pretty indigestible but not, afaik, actually toxic. If anyone knows what the toxin is I'd like to know.
Also the green bits are still toxic, even if you cook them (think about it, if they weren't then, since nobody eats them raw nobody would know they were toxic when raw.)

Anyway, excellent story.
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I was told by an American archaeologist who had worked in the Andes that there are varieties of potato there that are poisonous and are only edible after they have been urinated on and left outside in a frost.

How did they find THAT out?  [:o]


Offline Bored chemist

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Double blind clinical trial?
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Offline AllenG

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Hungriest man ever to walk the earth was the first to eat raw oysters.
Sliced himself to ribbons for one the most visually unappetizing thing ever.