Monday, September 6, 2010

To Shuck or Shell - That is the Question

Yesterday, we stopped by my mother-in-law's house for a quick visit. Brief background about my mother-in-law, AT, mom of CT:

AT is one of nine children, born and raised in Italy, in a small town just outside of Venice.  After AT and BT (CT's dad) were married, they decided that they would have a better life in America.  So, they packed up their few belongings and traveled to Chicago, where they began a new life.  For a brief time when CT was about six or seven years old, they moved back to Italy and lived there for about a year, but then eventually came back to Chicago.  AT was the only one of her siblings to have left Italy; the rest remained there, and for those who are still with us, remain there today.

I give credit to AT and BT for coming to America, not knowing the English language and the ways of the culture here - which is SOOOOOO much different than Italy.   AT said she learned English from watching TV.  Her English is pretty good, although she has such a thick accent, it took me a while to understand her pronounciation of some words.   CT and his brothers speak fluent Italian, and I always laugh because sometimes AT forgets that I do not speak Italian, and sometimes she'll leave us voicemail messages in Italian, or she will be speaking in English to us, and without realizing, change mid-sentence to Italian.  Then, I have to remind her, "English, please."  And she laughs.

So, back to the original point of this story.  We stopped by AT's yesterday, and there we found her sitting at her kitchen table with a big bushel of beans. 

Not green beans that I'm used to, but these long, white and pink-ish/red-ish colored beans.  She apparantly went to a farm not too far from her house and actually PICKED this entire bushel herself!   It looked like she had a thousand beans there, and she was preparing them to be frozen, so she could use them throughout the winter for soups and sugo (AT's italian word for "sauce".) 

Then I asked her, "So, what do you do with these beans?  Do you shuck them?"  (Heck, what do I know!)  She looked at me and started to laugh.  She said, "No, you shell them."  Well, what can I say, I'm an American city girl who buys her GREEN beans frozen in a plastic package from the grocery store.  Oh, yeah, then I nuke them in the microwave.

Anyway, CT and I pulled up two chairs and we began to help her shell her beans.  With the three of us working, it took us 2 1/2 hours to shell those beans.  At the end of our visit, she had all her beans neatly shelled and stored in freezer bags in her "frigidaire" (as she calls her refrigerator/freezer).


I never thought I'd enjoy shucking shelling beans as much as I did.  I had such a great sense of accomplishment after finally seeing the bottom of the bushel empty.  Ok, my thumbs hurt a little, but so what.  And I know that over the upcoming winter months, I will have the pleasure to enjoy some great soup or sugo - courtesy of AT.


  1. First of all - that looks like hard work! But I could totally see the "zen" in it!

    Also - thanks for the Button shout out!

    I put your button on my blog roll!

  2. Those are beautiful! I used to love shelling beans and snapping green beans and shucking corn when I was a child growing up on our relaxing and great family time spent!

  3. What the in the shell could you know. Ha! I love hanging in the kitchen with my grandma and having her tell me how to snip the buttons not cut them...what! I've never seen beans like that!

  4. Amazing, isn't it, how you can take a little adventure of shuckin' n' shellin' and think about taking a picture or two so you can blog about it!?!?!


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