People who know me well may be surprised to learn that the people who don’t know me well, often make the mistake of regarding me as a “cultured man.” It’s true! Often, people who have just met me make that mistake!

There is reason for them to be so misled. I can usually tell the difference, upon hearing the music, (and without reading the CD label), between a Bach fugue, a Mozart concerto, a Beethoven symphony, a Chopin polonaise. I know the plot lines of a few famous operas. I can speak knowingly about various movements in art history. I can cite various historically famous psychological studies. I can tell the difference between Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic Greek sculpture, say a few words in various foreign languages, sometimes I can even discuss either etymology or epistemology with not-quite-feigned but convincing interest expressing itself upon my visage. See that? See that? I said the French, “visage,” rather than using the common English expression, “face.” Surely, that alone must seem cultured!

However, despite immediate appearances, I am not the cultured man I sometimes appear to be. Those who know me well will need no convincing on that score. The point was brought home to me this afternoon as I prepared a casserole for myself.

A friend I met in New Haven, Connecticut in 1966 showed me how to prepare a Caribbean casserole. I loved it, and I have been preparing successively less refined versions of that casserole ever since. It struck me that today’s version of the original casserole is so far removed from the original version, I am even considering writing it up in my cookbook (due out any decade now) which has a working title of Jake’s Can-Tankerous Cookbook for Men. I called it “can-tankerous,” not cantankerous, because the cooking recipes are all based upon opening cans, or tanks, as the case may be.

My Caribbean Red Bean Casserole does have some actual cooking involved in it though, so I’m not sure whether or not it can be included in a cook book for men.

Here, I’ll give you my latest iteration – (see? see? “iteration?” eh?) of the Caribbean Casserole and you can judge for yourself – or even try it, maybe.

The 2016 version of the Caribbean Red Bean Casserole requires:
1 – can (drained,19 oz) lentils, or 1 – 12 oz can corn niblets
1 – can (drained,19 oz) cut green beans
1 – can (drained) pitted, whole or sliced ripe olives
½ – can or bottle (drained) pitted, whole or sliced green olives
1 – large (28 oz) can of red kidney beans (add more if you like, but this is gonna make a lotta food)

½ cup of Hot Salsa
(optional: diced bits of any pre-cooked meat)

Basmati rice (steam your own cup of rice or microwave two packages of prepared rice)

Open all cans and bottles, drain contents, maybe even wash the beans and lentils with cold water in a colander. Combine all of above ingredients in a BIG bowl.

Ladle a mammoth portion of casserole into a bowl from which you will eat. Top with generous nurdle of plum sauce and maybe just a touch of General Tao’s or barbecue sauce, or three cheese dressing. Have fun experimenting with toppings. Cover and microwave for 99 seconds. Open beer. Sit in front of sports on TV and eat with a big spoon. Makes five or six hefty portions.


Ah, culture! Where would we be without it?