To a lot of people, a can of beans isn’t a big deal. To a native New Mexican whose lineage goes back to when the area was a Spanish colony…it’s a very big deal. So when I say that Taco Bell Home Originals: Fat Free Refried Beans are my choice for my daily bean, heed should be…erm…heeded.
Growing up, the very concept of a canned refried bean was alien. Beans were something your mom or grandma fixed for you fresh. Everyday. FRESH. But, that was the 60s, when people had time for such things and grocery shelves weren’t really stocked with “ethnic” foods.
Time marches on, people got ever busier, and stores started including a few specialty foods. For decades, I’d been eating beans under the Old El Paso label. As time wore on, however, their recipe changed a few times and it was an increasingly disappointing option. Then it became difficult to find until, in 2009, I wasn’t able to find it at all. (I must make note that as of the early 80s, I’ve been a consumer of the vegetarian varieties of refried beans…often the larded version is still available.)
Needless to say, I was vexed. I started making my own beans at home on a regular basis, but I consume too many, and am sufficiently time-consumed, that this was never going to be a long-term option. I needed beans that tasted good and allowed me my necessary convenience. I tried just about every brand of vegetarian versions of beans available. Most were too salty. A few were completely inedible. And then a new Walmart Supercenter openned up and I saw these Taco Bell beans (made by Kraft Foods).
These are without a doubt the BEST canned refried beans I’ve ever had. The seasoning, the texture, the aroma…it all works. As a totally added bonus: both the regular and fat-free varieties are made without lard. (BTW other makers of vegetable canned goods [beans, soups, etc.], please stop putting animal products in vegetable items…do you know how many labels you force me to read and how many of your products I have to put back on the shelves? Too, too, many.)
So far, the only downside to these beans has been their limited availability. Even in Albuquerque this great product is available only at Walmart–and not even all of them. Seriously, people, take it from someone who knows from beans: this is a product that you want to have stocked in stores as a staple item; not just in New Mexico, but across the land. These really are that good.