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Buy Ken Albala's 'vividly entertaining' history of beans and we'll include a free £5 gift voucher.

This is the story of the bean, the staple food cultivated by humans for over 10,000 years.

From the lentil to the soybean, every civilization on the planet has cultivated its own species of bean. The humble bean has always attracted attention - from Pythagoras' notion that the bean hosted a human soul to St. Jerome's indictment against bean eating in convents (because they "tickle the genitals"), to the use of L-DOPA (found in fava beans) in the treatment of Parkinson's disease

As you can imagine, we love this book and have had a copy in the Bean Store, now very well thumbed, for years. Albala's entertaining account reveals how a simple, staple food can tell a complex story about a society and shape a culture in unexpected ways. It's a history book full of diverting asides as well as plenty of recipes, and amply demonstrates that there's little as fascinating as beans.

"A vividly entertaining history of the humble bean takes the reader on a curious, surprising and exciting journey across epochs, continents and cultures." Raymond Blanc

Ken Albala is Professor of History and Director of Food Studies at the University of the Pacific, USA.