Quick! Make White Bean Crostini. I have guests coming…
I know you have a can of white beans in there somewhere. Get it out and open it up. This is a White Bean Crostini emergency.
How many times have you heard that phrase? Around my house it’s a common occurrence. I make White Bean Crostini whenever I’m faced with a stressful social situation.
Which brings me to a story. Yes another story. A High School (Into College) Story.
When I was in high school. I was thin. Painfully thin. People called me skinny. People called me worse things too.
So please don’t call me skinny or I might cry. Those other words I’ve learned to embrace. “Skinny” however still hurts me.
Of course, I’ve gained some weight since my teenage years. I’m not exactly “skinny” these days, but I like to think I’m delightfully thin (for a man my age). Still (to me) the word skinny has far more power than any word I can think of.
White Bean Crostini? Are we still talking about White Bean Crostini?
Yes we are.
When you’re a skinny kid (trying to prove a point) you do things that might seem out of character. This skinny kid joined a fraternity when he was in college. I don’t know why. It was the surest place I can think of where I might be called “skinny”. Or worse.
I tired to fit in, but I just didn’t. In fact I quit college barely into my second year just to get away from being called “skinny” (and worse).
The years have gone by and I did alright for a skinny kid. Today I’m the kind of person who makes White Bean Crostini whenever somebody pops in unexpectedly, or I find myself pressed to impress with little time to prepare. It’s simply a mix of white beans, chopped olives, parsley, lemon, chile flakes, and a ridiculously simple dressing. There’s even room for improv: Got capers? Throw them in. Cherry tomatoes? Garlic? Feta? Perfect. You get the idea.
Recently I found myself making White Bean Crostini for one of my college fraternity brothers. He’d come to Los Angeles to look at colleges for his own young daughter. He said he felt compelled to look me up while he was here (I have a blog, I’m not hard to find).
I have to admit the skinny kid in me resisted the meeting. I forgot to return emails. I stalled. I lied. I didn’t want to see this man. But he persisted. He pushed. He pleaded. He demanded. He wanted to see me while he was in Los Angeles. The skinny kid in me capitulated and I finally agreed to meet him at my house. I figured, if he wanted to call me “skinny” (or worse) at least I’d have the luxury of throwing him out.
In college he was a big, tall, handsome jock. When he rang my doorbell nearly 30 years later, he was a big, tall, handsome jock.
Since I had stalled so long, I barely had any time to prepare. So the cook in me threw open the cupboard doors, hoping to find something delicious to offer him (and his daughter) to eat. My eyes settled upon a can of white cannelini beans.
So I made White Bean Crostini with Olives, Chile, and Lemon. I made a drink too. We talked. We laughed. I learned that he felt freakishly tall when he was young. In fact I noticed he still slouched a bit whenever he was standing next to someone “less tall” than he.
I learned we weren’t so different. He with his daughter. Me with my white beans… GREG