Beans, beans, beans

By Doménica Michelle Montaño '21

Original Artwork by Emma Ogden-Wolgemuth

Original Artwork by Emma Ogden-Wolgemuth

Around a week ago, my friend Sebas and I were missing our tasty Ecuadorian food and thought it would be nice to make empanadas and celebrate Día de Los Muertos. So, we went grocery shopping at Hannaford and got ground beef, cheese, tomato sauce, garlic, and spices; but we were missing the most important ingredient on our list: frozen empanada dough––because of course Sebas was not in the mood for making the empanadas from scratch. We looked in every single freezer, but we could not find empanada dough, so I thought perhaps we could find something similar in the Hispanic food aisle.

We didn’t.

Beans, beans, beans, and more beans.

They were all we saw.

There was rice, adobo, wafers, coconut milk, Maseca, coconut water, malta and some bottled juices that I assumed were Hispanic because the aisle said so. Yet, at least 70% of the aisle was full of different kinds of beans:

Red kidney beans, dark kidney beans, pink beans, pinto beans, black beans, Roman beans, lentil beans, Great Northern Beans, navy beans, cannellini beans, black eyed peas.

Photo by Ivett Martinez

Photo by Ivett Martinez

As if these were not enough, there were also: Traditional Refried Pinto Beans, Red Kidney Beans in Sauce and Pink Beans in Sauce.

Those were already fourteen kinds of beans, and I was not even counting the dry pinto beans, Dry Black Eye Peas, Dry Black Beans, Dry Navy Beans, Dry Lentil Beans, Small White Beans, and the Small Red Beans. I did not even know there were so many kinds of beans! So, I began to question: do we, Hispanics, really eat that many beans?

To be honest, I am not so sure. I think I eat more beans at Bennington than at home. Seriously, in Ecuador I would eat beans (menestras) perhaps three times a month; in Bennington, I eat beans at least three times a week. So why I am so upset with Hannaford’s choice of Hispanic food?

Having twenty-one kinds of beans is amazing! I give Hannaford some credit for that; it has to be hard to find such a big amount of beans. But why only beans? Why not plantains? Why not dulce de leche? Why not potatoes? Why not queso fresco? There are so many different kinds of food, besides beans, that Hispanics actually eat, and almost nobody knows because places like Hannaford make it seem like Latin America is all about beans.

No, it is not all about beans.

Or Mexico.

Mexicans do not only eat beans, anyway.

So, let’s get something clear here. Hispanics (from all of Latin America) do not only eat beans. We, Hispanics, eat a myriad of things. For example, I can’t think of a day that I don’t eat rice and bread when I’m at home. Indeed, it is quite a lot of carbs for someone who is 5’1”, but that is just how it is.

And no, I do not eat twenty-one kinds of beans.

Honestly, Hannaford’s Hispanic aisle is actually very offensive. Firstly, because it portrays the stereotype that Mexicans only eat beans, tacos, and burritos. Secondly, because it makes it seem that Latin America is Mexico. And thirdly, because it dismisses twenty-five countries that are also part of Latin America.

So, what can we do to change that?

That is the key question, and I cannot answer it because I sincerely do not know. However, what I do know is that when I am in the mood for beans, Hannaford is the place to go! And they are only 79 cents!