Ethics & Values: Bean town — Tracy, Boston or Dublin?
by Mike McLellan
Sep 11, 2009 | 2015 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mike McClellan / Ethics & Values
Mike McClellan / Ethics & Values
Even though Tracy is the dry bean capital of the world, the nickname “Bean Town” long ago went to Boston.

Bostonians already have Harvard Medical School, the Celtics and the tea party. You would think they would share.

Boston is the home of Boston baked beans and thousands of Irish immigrants, which is not a coincidence. The Irish and beans go together.

Bean Town could also be Dublin, Limerick, Galway or Cork.

Here is some gastronomic history.

There is a phenomenon called the “full Irish breakfast” that features bangers, rashers, eggs, black pudding, white pudding, potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms and plenty of beans. It will give you strength to work in the fields all day or flunk your cholesterol test.

The full Irish breakfast can make it possible for a traveler to skip lunch and eat a light dinner and still gain weight during a trip.

While we associate Ireland with potatoes, we also ought to recognize that nation’s love of beans.

The Irish likely brought their passion for beverages and beans to the United States during the 1830s and ’40s, when they crossed the Atlantic and settled heavily in the Boston area.

Thus, Boston and Ireland are linked by beans.

There is more to this story.

For years, the full English breakfast and full Irish breakfast have included a delicate bean brew imported from the United States called Heinz Baked Beans. They come in a can. Yes, it is true. Our own H.J. Heinz fed and fueled the Anglo-Saxon world on our native navy beans.

While Bush’s Beans have now taken over the lead, Heinz is still a major player.

Thus, Ireland, Boston and Tracy are closely tied together by beans and a good number of Boston Irish Catholics, including Deacon Jack Ryan of St. Bernard’s Church.

Beans are often maligned, but they are the largest single source of vegetable protein around the world.

In Ireland, baked beans on toast are the quick breakfast. Beans often find their way onto the table at dinner. Beans are everywhere.

As you celebrate the annual Dry Bean Festival here in Tracy, remember to wear green and orange. Concurrently, I’ll be tipping a Guinness to the success of this year’s party from the other side of the pond.

• Mike McLellan can be contacted by calling and leaving a message at 830-4201 or e-mailing him at
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