The Right Reds

Most people claim I’m an old ass who’s quick to fuss about any damned thing. Let me confirm that base accusation by pointing out that when cooking New Orleans-style red beans most people insist on using the wrong beans.

Yes, that’s right. Instead of honest-to-goodness red beans, most people—even most vendors—use kidney beans, which are yes red, but they aren’t the right red. You’ll see small kidney beans marketed as red beans all the time; even the Camilla brand red beans are kidneys, as are those used by the Blue Runner people, but most markets in the mid-South will have honest-to-goodness red beans sold simply as red beans, and if you look under the ingredients, you’ll find “small red beans”, not kidneys as you’ll find on the Camilla package or on the Blue Runner can.

It’s only a whisker’s difference between the two, but it’s crucial, a matter of veracity and refinement if not to say taste.