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Haricot Verts. Really?

Why? They've been called green beans all my life til now. Is it really necessary to give every food item or way of preparing it a french name now? C'mon. Getting a bit silly now, no?

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  1. Haricots verts have been called that forever. It's the thinner green bean that was traditionally used in salad nicoise. It's more commonly available now but it's decidedly different than Green Giant.

    7 Replies
    1. re: ferret

      Yeah, i think when I was growing up, they called this variety "french" green beans! I'm pretty sure...

      1. re: mwerkharder

        They might have called them "frenched" green beans which describes the way they are cut prior to cooking.

        1. re: escondido123

          Green beans can be "frenched" in the way they are cut, but that is different from "French" green beans that are a particular variety of thin bean. I suspected that Frenching green beans makes them look a little bit more like French green beans (also called haricot verts).

          1. re: escondido123

            Yes, French was the cut, and nobody could do it the way my grandmother could, and she never taught me. In those days they were called string beans, but the string was bred out and they became green beans.

          2. re: mwerkharder

            When you were growing up these weren't sold here commercially. Green Giant has always had a "French Style" green bean which is not the same thing.

            1. re: ferret

              I know French style is not the same as haricot vert, but some people think frenched green beans means French green beans. Just clarifying that point....I do know what haricot vert are.

            2. re: mwerkharder

              The "standard" green beans and what is called "haricots verts" nowadays in the US are indeed different beans, as others elsewhere here have explained. Perhaps you might consider this a learning opportunity.

          3. I grow several varieties of green beans and they definitely are different than others. They are my favourite green bean as they are uniformly slender and straight and taste wonderful!

            2 Replies
            1. re: chefathome

              Isn't there also an Italian cut that is somewhat flat/wide? I much prefer them with regard to taste and texture.

              1. re: mucho gordo

                In addition to the filet-type, I used to grow Romano beans and I think they fit your criteria.

            2. You need to travel more.

              The green beans you've known are American green beans. Haricot verts are French green beans. When cultivated properly, they are more tender and sweeter than American green beans.

              Give them a try. You might like them.

              1. You're right. Haricot vert literally means green bean (haricot = bean, vert = green). Many Americans refer to the slimmer, French variety as haricot vert to differentiate them from typical American green beans, and most don't understand French well enough to realize they're just saying green bean in French..

                4 Replies
                1. re: sillybuns79

                  Yes, I realize that haricot vert = green beans! My favourite variety just happens to be called haricot vert, from France. When I cook them I don't call them haricot vert but just green beans.

                  EDIT: It is also fun to grow/cook the purple "green" beans but I don't find them as tender or flavourful.

                  1. re: chefathome

                    I guess my point is that, in French, the term haricots verts includes all varieties of green beans, although when the term is used in France, it's typically the French green bean to which one is referring (because it is the most common variety). Similarly, in North America, when someone says green bean, we typically assume they are referring to the common American variety. What I find odd is that anglophones have taken a French term and attached a specificity to it that it does not have in French. By simply saying green bean in French, we expect people to know that we're referring to a specific variety. It's like saying endive in French or Flemish and expecting people to know you're referring to a Belgian endive.

                    1. re: sillybuns79

                      conversely there was no such thing in England before about 30 years ago as English Muffins. We just didn't have them until they were 'imported' across the pond to Olde England.

                      1. re: sillybuns79

                        it's only an attempt to keep it clear...because as you said "green bean" in the US will get you the larger variety that's common in the US...If you want the little skinny ones, then you need to clarify that...and "haricot vert" has slipped into that position.

                        I've bought US-size green beans in France, by the way...but they're still called haricot vert....so I just have to tell them that I want the big ones or the little ones.

                  2. They really are a different bean. Here's a picture of some vegetables that I harvested this year from my garden. The thin green beans on the bottom right are Haricot Verts. You can see the size difference by comparing them to the standard sized wax beans on the top right.

                     
                    8 Replies
                    1. re: meadandale

                      Where did you buy the seed for the Haricot Verts??? Are they called Hairicot Verts, vs say...Kentucky Wonder or Blue Lake etc?? .... Would love to grow some this year!

                      1. re: Uncle Bob

                        Maxibel Bean is one example of a French/Filet bean sold by seed companies.

                        1. re: Uncle Bob

                          Friend of ours who used to have a truck farm down in Maury County, TN grew the most luscious filet beans. REALLY wish he hadn't gotten tired of doing that … Most of the seed catalogs now have one or more varieties of filet bean. Now that I'm in SoCal, I'm happy to have a more or less regular supply of fresh-packaged ones, not as magical as fresh-picked, but still really good. I usually reverse the French cooking method, and toss them in hot butter then throw in some water, put the lid on, and cook with an occasional shake for six to ten minutes.

                          1. re: Will Owen

                            My parents got haricot verts seeds from Burpee's: www.burpee.com this past year...we had them in some Nicoise salads over the summer, they were very good!

                            1. re: Will Owen

                              Ya. That's how JP steam sautés beans too.
                              As an aside has anyone tried JP's method of forming cucumber flesh into little football shapes and steam sautéing them like the beans?

                              1. re: Puffin3

                                If you want cooked cucumber, google Julia Child's recipe for braised cucumbers from MtAoFC. The author of Julie & Julia made such a big deal about them that I had to try - easy recipe, very delicious. One person can easily consume a large cucumber as a single serving when they are prepared this way (they do shrink some). Much better, IMO, than the Pepin method (and less waste).

                              1. re: Uncle Bob

                                These are what I planted

                                http://www.botanicalinterests.com/sto...

                                I get a lot of my seeds from Botanical Interest because that's what most of the garden supply places around here carry.

                            2. Til now? LOL I'm pretty sure the bean in question as been referred to as Haricot Verts for quite some time.

                              They don't resemble Del Monte.

                              1. Oh for heaven's sake people - not overly into semantics are you??? Who really cares what the heck you want to call them. And no one really cares if it has a French name or not. Relax.

                                But popular terminology here in the U.S. has "Haricot Verts" meaning the thin "Filet Beans" that are mature & flavorful at a much thinner stage than regular snap beans. While you can certainly pick regular snap beans at the thinner stage, they don't develop full bean flavor until they're a bit thicker, whereas "Haricot Vert" aka "Filet Beans" have full flavor at the thin stage. THAT'S the big difference.

                                And allowing your "Haricot Verts" aka "Filet Beans" to develop into dry shell beans yields you "Haricot Verts" dry beans - a classic ingredient in French Cassoulet (although since authentic Haricot Verts dry beans aren't often available, Great Northern beans can be used with terrific results ;).)

                                "Frenched beans" is the terminology for snap beans sliced lengthwise. Any kind of snap bean.

                                Just enjoy your vegetables folks. No need to get all ootzy over titles.

                                1. I can tell you that in France, the haricots vets which are ubiquitous and 'mandatory' in many restuaurants cafes, and bars during the summer are much more delicious than the green beans we usually find in the US.

                                  6 Replies
                                    1. re: chefathome

                                      Walked through an outdoor produce market in Paris, and marvelled at the gorgeous piles of skinny green beans, so bright they almost glowed. That night we had our family dinner at Chez Julien, a fine Belle Epoque brasserie, where I happened to notice waiters bearing platters adorned with that same green. Yes! They were on the Entrée portion of the menu (that is, the course preceding the main one). While the rest of the family went for patés and terrines, I ordered the Haricots Verts, which arrived steamed and buttered to tender, just slightly crunchy perfection. Green Bean Heaven!

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Could be. The silky black gypsum-laden soil of Maury County, Tennessee yielded some as good as the French ones, and I really miss those. At least they're becoming more common in some grocery stores here in SoCal now; both Ralphs and Trader Joe's have them in bags. Not anywhere near as wonderful as the almost-radioactive-green ones in France, but better than Blue Lake …

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          that and MOST (not all, by any stretch) haricots verts will make the trip from field to table in a far shorter time period than their US cousins, especially in rural areas.

                                      2. I'm with the OP.

                                        Here in the UK, they were always "green beans". Then there was a period when they were "French beans", then "Bo-Bo beans". Now my supermarket calls them either "Dwarf beans" or "Fine beans". Except when they're frozen when they still seem to be "green beans". They still come from places like Zambia or Kenya.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Harters

                                          Thanks, Harters! That was my point all along. Someone puts a "fancy" name to something and it becomes all the rage and the price goes up and all that. Just stop with being pretentious about food! If it's good, eat it. No need to gussy it up with french words...

                                          1. re: mwerkharder

                                            There's no pretense here. It's communication. It is what it is.

                                            I'm still at a loss as to why a French word would be "fancy." Being stupid and close-minded stopped being cool in 5th grade.

                                            1. re: tommy

                                              Isn't this addressed in another thread?

                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/761055

                                              I think the consensus is that green beans in the US are thicker and darker; haricot verts are thinner and brighter.

                                        2. To me, the over-use of haricot verts for any young green/string bean is a little like pronouncing forte as for-tay or foyer as foy-yah! Since I'm American, I attempt to use American English. I don't see any reason for affecting another language

                                          3 Replies
                                            1. re: escondido123

                                              I'll admit i'm really a reverse snob myself. I only pronounce it 'fort' to people I don't like; however, I do pronounce foyer as foyer:)

                                              Found the following somewhere just to prove my point:

                                              If you want to be perfectly and unimpeachably correct, you will pronounce the word forte, meaning something that is one’s strong point, identically to the word fort, and reserve the FOR-tay pronunciation only for the musical term.

                                              1. re: rustqlts

                                                Never heard it pronounced as "fort" and doubt that people would know what I was talking about. Will stick with "fortay."

                                          1. Haricots verts in France may just mean green beans (I don't know) but as we get them in the USA are not the same as regular green beans. If you have a Trader Joe's, buy a bag of the frozen haricots verts and you will see the difference---they are smaller and more slender. Nicer for salads.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Querencia

                                              Yes, it's literally green beans (haricots=beans, verts=green)

                                              As I commented quite some time ago upthread, both are available in France (though the little ones are easier to find).

                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                To clear up all of this! We own a farm in upstate New York where we have naturally grown heirloom and rare vegetables both european and asian for 28 years! We know all about vegetables and we grow haricot vertes!! They are a specific French bean which are totally different than a standard green bean such as blue lake! Haricot verte beans are amazing! It is not just a green bean it is a gourmet quality bean! Hope this helps!!

                                                1. re: cake8310

                                                  To clear this all up! I've been arguing your same point for years!

                                                  But haricots verts (with an 's' on haricots, because it's plural, and an 's' after vert because it's plural AND masculin!) is really! the literal French translation of "green bean"!

                                                  Really!