This is an introduction to the world of dried beans, a staple of almost every cuisine and an extremely versatile ingredient. For example, you can turn beans into soups, salads, dips and spreads, fried cakes, gratins, and side dishes. Tanis begins at the beginning, and tells us that we can find most common varieties of beans at the supermarket, but that we should be concerned with how fresh they are, since beans are not dated for freshness. He then teaches us how to pick our beans clean and soak them for better texture and faster cooking time. Then come the detailed instructions on how to cook beans; they must be handled with a surprising amount of care. A sidebar gives a source for heirloom beans. Recipes include: Black Bean Soup with Tomato-Tomatillo Salsa; Gratin of Flageolet Beans & Sausage; and White Beans with Rosemary & Olive Oil.