…..has beans

Several mouse clicks ago my opening line would have been very different to this but the moving mouse clicked and having clicked moved on leaving one of my firmly held beliefs in tatters. Baked beans, Heinz or the like, and their shortcoming was to be the thrust of the piece but, having reflected on the main coming in which they are most definitely short, being flavour, led me to become aware of the shortness of a multitude of  their other comings, glutinous sauce and pallid appearance, to the point where the only can of baked beans over which I could now enthuse would be an original Warhol. This sticky problem arose as I was placing a dish of pommes boulangere in the oven for our dinner. We would normally have a green salad and good bread as an accompaniment to this simple dish but a small, cling filmed china pot, filled with the remains of an intense, slightly chillied and shiningly unctuous tomato sauce, had attracted my attention as it needed to be used up. In the dark recesses of the cupboard in which we keep our tinned goods sits a pile of tins of Heinz Baked Beans. They are in those plastic sealed packs of four that are available in all London supermarkets and, on each of our rare visits, Jenny makes sure that one of these packs accompanies us back to France after which they attain a sacred cow status in that there is rarely an occasion, in Jenny’s opinion, which merits their opening, heating and putting on toast. The cupboard also contains many tins and jars of different pulses  together with packets of their dried brethren and from this plethora of choice I took a tin of cannelini beans, which I assume to be pretty close to the “navy” beans that are the base ingredient of “baked beans”. The upshot of the story is that I warmed slivers of garlic in olive oil, added the tomato sauce and then….this is the point….anchovies, followed by the beans. Once the ingredients had been gently heated and lovingly stirred the resulting flavour was very, very good and it was on the strength of this wonderful flavour that I googled “do Heinz flavour any of their products with anchovies?” in the belief that the answer would be resoundingly in the affirmative but, as in a recent referendum, I was left dumbfounded by the “negatory” response to my enquiry.  There is but one Heinz product that transgresses the anchovy free status and that exception arrives by post in a plain brown wrapper ( plain save for the word Amazon printed large) and travels under the name of “Pasta sauce anchovies and black olives tomato sauce 100gX3 bags of Heinz adult protein adjustment” ….if you’re concerned that the sudden arrival of “adult” products, in plain brown envelopes, dropping onto your previously unsullied doormat might create unwanted gossip in social media may I recommend this as an option:


About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
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20 Responses to …..has beans

  1. Sue says:

    Ah, I have a can of Cannelini beans to use up – thanks for this recipe!!

  2. It is hard to think of anything that is not improved by anchovies. On second thoughts, I once worked with a man who drank his martinis with an anchovy floating in it. A lemon twist is IMHO superior to any piscatorial additions to the gin and vermouth. And while i am giving voice to my opinions, leaving the tomato sauce for a few days of maturation is always a good thing to do. — James

    • Absolutely in agreement about the magical effect of anchovies and on leaving tomato sauce to mature…..cannot, however, imagine a Martini with anchovy. I used to drink a lot of Martinis which, I found out, is the wrong way to drink them:)

  3. Mad Dog says:

    Forgive me if I’ve mentioned this before.
    The Spanish brought beans (most varieties, except broad beans) back from their South American conquests. Jews fleeing persecution from the Inquisition took beans with them to France and the traditional overnight slow cooked Sabbath Cholent, is probably where Cassoulet comes from. It is though that Jews emigrating to North America had some influence on the single pot (Dutch Oven), slow cooked baked beans of the pioneers and cowboys. These came back across the Atlantic, where they were declared “essential food” during wartime rationing in Britain.
    I probably eat Heinz Beans once a year, with a fry up, but if I make beans, I do them like yours or proper American baked beans with meat and sausage – definitely with anchovies! As a child I always poured lots of HP sauce into baked beans – it made them hot and spicy – a definite improvement! I notice that HP is now owned by Heinz…

    • …..good point about HP as that, I’m sure, has anchovies in it….and tamarind which is another top flavour enhancer. I like the Cholent/Cassoulet link which I did not know at all. I read an interesting article about Ketchup on the net this morning….https://www.fastcodesign.com/1673352/how-500-years-of-weird-condiment-history-designed-the-heinz-ketchup-bottle

      • Mad Dog says:

        I think you are right – they don’t let on with regard to full ingredients, but I did see mention of Worcestershire sauce as an ingredient in HP – that definitely contains anchovies! I’m sure my childhood taste buds were unconsciously searching for a savoury taste, not too far from the American home made baked beans, which at that point I’d never tasted.
        Great Ketchup link – I loved the bit about speed of sauce travel and the origin sounds like Roman garum or Squid Thai Fish Sauce. It is amazing that Lea and Perrins, with a supposed Begal recipe, keeps “forever” where tomato ketchup struggled to find a formula that wasn’t toxic within months!

  4. I like this recipe. Will do.

  5. Eha says:

    Well, I basically love to open your posts for their writing but this Sunday version has been most useful! Living solo rurally with shops over the far horizon one has to take out insurance both for days busy and those unwell. In my case it basically is in half a shelf of beans etc in the pantry – yes, the packet of those four tins, with the Heinz name clearly printed, lies there at the very moment . . . for the days one eats to live not the other way round 🙂 ! Garlic and anchovies methinks will tart such up just beautifully: not a recipe perchance, but a vey welcome tip !!!

    • Glad it worked for you, Eha. You must be heavily engaged in the Winter Olympics and in need of proper sustenance…..that tastes of something:)

      • Eha says:

        Oh Roger: you know me too well 🙂 ! In spite of living in a ‘sunburnt country . . . of droughts and flooding rains’ (Dorothea MacKellar) an atavistic feelingworld has led me to 16 wonderful days of only what passes in Korea via my TV set to be where I am . . .

  6. I’m reading this on the way to shops. Now adding anchovies to the list.

  7. Sally says:

    Your comments thread is always as fascinating as your article Roger. I can only eat baked beans with a huge dousing of HP

  8. This reminds me to order more Heinz baked beans. We always bring stuff back with us as well. All would be rationed. Then I discovered I could order this stuff online. What a revelation! 😄

  9. On line ordering for stuff like that is a lifesaver….Jenny loves Marmite and a pot of the stuff in our local supermarché is nearly 9 €….:)

  10. I simply love anchovies. I will have to try your recipe. It has potential if being fabulously divine! 💖

    • ….I, like yourself, cannot understand the dislike of anchovies. I enjoy them on their own or as a flavour enhancer. I saw a recent instagram where Jasper Conran was having anchovies on bread and butter “soldiers” to go with his boiled egg…..a good take on “nursery” food:)

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