It would seem that Grüner Bohnen, green beans or sometimes called string beans would have been everywhere quickly in the man's quest for food. They seem to grow in a variety of climates. However they were considered a pretty flowering plant for years.
Green Beans or String Beans (because of the string that use to go down the back) are originally from South America, or Mexico in that region where we also got squash, potatoes and tomatoes.
The Spanish brought them over to Europe . Now the dried seeds of what became known as Lima Beans or as some call them Butter Beans were shipped to Europe in boxes that were labeled from Lima , Peru . Hence the name. Green Beans were brought over for ornamental flowering plants, because the pods were too tough to eat.
Legend has it that some of the pods fell into a soup pot once and accidentally cooked till tender and were discovered to be delicious! Then the new delicacy spread across Europe including Germany. Well not sure if that is exactly how it happened. Through selective breeding green bean plants with pods that are nice and tender were developed, and the strings were also bred out in most varieties.
In the States you hear about 3 bean salad but not so much just green bean salad. When I saw German recipes for Grüner Bohnensalat (Green Bean salad) I took notice. I LOVE fresh green beans. So I have looked at a lot of recipes and found that there are a lot of variations.
One thing is that when chatting with Anette Holmes who grew up in Germany, that they don't use sugar or any sweeter in their green bean salads. . I played with this a little because I always use a bit of sugar, honey or agave in my salad dressings. I found that if you just cook the green beans, strain and then toss them in a bowl with olive oil, a touch of "not too strong" vinegar and some seasoning. It's wonderful, no sugar needed. the dressing is just kind of barely there.
However I wanted to duplicate and improve on the 3 bean salad that I grew up with and is still a favorite side dish with our family that is sweetened slightly. I think you will like it.
This is a nice companion book to Recipes from a German Grandma. From Germany with Love tells the story of my grandma, Emma Block, growing up in a little town in Baden/ Würtemberg, Germany near Heidelberg named Steinsfurt. Then at the age of 15 immigrating to the United States, taking a train with one of her sisters and brothers to Hamburg and sailing the Atlantic with other hope filled Germans wanting to make a life in the "New World". It was not easy but with good values learned in her German upbringing made a full life, had a wonderful family with lots of fun and celebration including the great German meals.