Byline: John Humphries
THE French bean is so-called not because it is a native of France but because its cultivation on this side of the Channel started when the Huguenots fled to England during the reign of Elizabeth I.
Its home, like the runner bean, is South America, which explains why the seed refuses to germinate if planted too early into cold, damp soil.
Popular though it became in Britain, it was the French cooks who first took the bean to their culinary hearts, calling the dried seeds of the beans haricots, because they used them in ragots or haricots of mutton.
The French eat the bean and its seeds at almost every stage of its …