Lima Beans, Wine and Jane’s Addiction

When you were a little kid, you probably hated peas. I not only hated peas, but loathed lima beans. It was not so much the flavor, as the consistency. Lima beans, especially when prepared hastily, or from a can with little or no enhancers like herbs or spices, reduce themselves to little more than paste in your mouth. The kind of paste that weird little boy, who always sat in the back of the classroom shooting spitballs at all the prissy girls, ate straight out of the jar. Primarily for shock value — but also because he was probably a little “touched.

As a kid, I preferred foods that were familiar, straightforward and un-nuanced. Give me a cheeseburger slathered in catsup, mashed potatoes with nothing but a dollop of margarine (Gawd forbid anyone use butter!) or macaroni and cheese (a la Velveeta) and I was perfectly satisfied. Adventuresome eating was Prime Rib au jus with a little horseradish sauce, or potatoes au gratin, because adding the “au” to anything made it a bit more grown-up and “worldly.”

I listened to music the same way I ate food. Give me Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy or Davy Jones. Throw in some Donny and Marie or Sonny and Cher — but that was also because they were all on television. The music was driven by lyrics and melody. If I knew the words, and I could sing along– that was all I needed. Anything else was just distraction.

It was a pattern for most everything — music, food, literature, film, and art. About as “exotic” as I got was Pier I, Tex-Mex and occasionally a film with subtitles. Not that I never thought about venturing outside my comfort zone — I just rarely did. I suppose because familiar is safe.

For the most part, that is how I stayed. That is, until I met Joe.

Joe’s tastes and experiences ran in wild opposition to mine. Joe likes the art of Jackson Pollock and the films of Stanley Kubrick, the Cohen Brothers, David Lynch and Tim Burton. He will try anything when it comes to food — favoring those that use everything. Or what Tony Bourdain terms “The Nasty Bits,” the parts most folks (in the States anyway) throw away.

It infuriated me to no end; once so much so, that I hurled a hairbrush at his head. He caught it mid air with one hand.
As is his taste in music, the stuff I call, “Not very pretty.” Joe prefers the music of Iggy Pop, The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Rage Against the Machine and Jane’s Addiction. Our most frequent disagreements in the early days involved music. I found his favorite bands acerbic and cacophonous. He found mine banal and one-dimensional. He lorded his music snobbery over me. It infuriated me to no end, once so much so, that I hurled a hairbrush at his head from across a joint desk we shared in a tiny bedroom converted to an “office.” He was standing just inches in front of a mirrored closet door. From his years as a drummer, Joe has lightning-fast reflexes. He caught the hairbrush mid air in one hand. He could barely keep a straight face, he tells the story, as he watched my eyes first widen, then dart from him to the door in the corner of the room, and back to him, as if calculating the distance and planning my escape.

But part of my frustration, and lack of appreciation was that I could not hear anything but the voices. Joe would say, “listen to that lead guitar, the poly rhythms on the drums, the pulsing of the bass.” But I could never really hear them — because I focused on the voices of the singers.

Not until I discovered the political messages behind the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen, Eminem and Black Flag, could I appreciate bands like Rage Against the Machine, the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy. And it wasn’t until a recent Jane’s Addiction concert, I realized how much sharper my senses had become. (That I could distinguish at least two strains of “incense”– one, I’m told, characteristic of the hydroponic persuasion, is further proof.)

Jane's Addiction at Bayou Music Theatre Houston
Once grating to my ears, I now enjoyed the sui generis vocals of Perry Farrell. Granted at age 53, Farrell’s voice is now rounder. But I could now too hear and appreciate the true artistry of Dave Navarro’s guitar, the beats of Stephen Perkins’ drums, the bass line of Chris Chaney. Perhaps because now I am really listening.

My food choices have changed as well. I will try almost anything, even “The Nasty Bits.” I will eat lima beans, albeit Joe’s “Butter Beans” based on a black-eyed pea (not the band) recipe he got from Bobby Brown’s (yes, that one) personal chef years ago.

So it is with wine.

When many of us first tasted it, we often could pinpoint only the most prominent of flavors in wine. The jammy fruit of a big California Zinfandel, the bite of a tannic Howell Mountain Napa Cab — that turns the juiciest mouth quickly from rainforest to desert. Much like music, we could not begin to appreciate the nuances until we had opened our palates to the myriad of choices.

Do not fault your own tongue if you cannot taste the difference between a Merlot or a Cabernet Sauvignon; an Old World versus New World Chardonnay. A Walla Walla Syrah from a McLaren Vale Shiraz. Or a classic vintage Burgundy from a young Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.

Like life itself, to truly appreciate the flavors and nuances in wine, you must open yourself to new and different bottles of experience.

Drink. More. Wine.


The WineWonkette

Posted in Best of AWB, Education, Featured, Posts

Amy Corron Power View posts by Amy Corron Power

A licensed attorney, Amy is a wine-lover, foodie, photographer, political junkie and award-winning author who writes about Wine, Food, Beer & Spirits. As Managing Editor & Tasting Director for Another Wine Blog, she travels all over the world's wine regions to share her experiences with her readers and legions of twitter, Instagram and Facebook friends and fans. Amy holds certifications through the International Sommelier Guild, and is also certified, with honors, as a California Wine Appellation Specialist (CWAS). She is a member of the Guild of Sommeliers, The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas and regularly attends Houston Sommelier Association events. Amy is also a contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books, and was most recently published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Gratitude.
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