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cheesecurdsinparadise

Urgent info needed on origins of red beans & rice

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I'm supposed to defend my thesis on the 30th of this month, but there is an unresolved question I've been working for months on to no avail. I've searched libraries and the internet extensively in trying to figure out as much of the etymology of the dish as possible, as well as how it got to Louisiana from ??? (Haiti, I presume, but I've found no proof that the dish developed there). I know there are variations of beans & rice all over the Caribbean, and that red beans & rice the way it is served in Louisiana (with pork & dissolved vegetables) is popular in Haiti and some parts of Cuba. What can y'all tell me about this dish?

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These kinds of difficulties should be raised directly with your academic advisor.

People who conduct research constantly run into obstacles for many different kinds of reasons. You might need to re-evaluate the questions you are asking or the scope of your project. Who knows?

In any case, seek guidance in your department. You are still a student and the thesis is an important part of your education.


Edited by Pontormo (log)

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Without giving too much away, in the spirit of it being academic and all, As I understand it, red beans and rice are traditionally served on Mondays in New Orleans. Monday also used to be wash day, and since you already had fires going (back in the day) to heat water for washing, it was a good excuse to make beans and rice as well, since the beans at least require extended cooking. It wasn't worth it on many other days, as you would use up a lot of fuel/wood to do that cooking style.

How it got to New Orleans is a different matter. My guess would be to look at who was doing the Monday washing. :wink:

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It's a very common dish allover SOUTH Louisiana, not so much north of Alex.

It's a very ingrained thing, cooking it on mondays. That's also when I do the bulk of my laundry, and I like redbeans because I can start it early, and let it go all day. It's on every resturant menu around. I think it's a 'northern' variation of black beans and rice, and came up from the islands. I'll ask the neighbors and see what they were taught. I've always assumed the redbeans were indiginious here, or so easily grown that it replaced black beans. Another lead might be to look at Africa. Gumbo, so identified with south louisiana, is a variation of an African dish...or so I've read.

Good luck with that. It is an intrigueing question.

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I thought it was slave or ship food; partly what could be grown, but partly what could be stored on ship, easily prepared and served and also nutritious.

What is more surprising is where it does not appear:

It does not appear, for example in the Williamsburg Art of Cookery in 1742, nor is it in Fanny Farmer's Boston cooking School (my copy is 1924), nor in Countess Morphy;s "Recipes of all Nations", despite chapters on Amreican and seperately on Creole cuisine. Thus I would assume it to be quite local.

Of course there are many bean stews, often flavoured with bacon, such as Boston baked beans, and even cassoulet, which may have been served with rice and from which the dish could be adapted.

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There is some sort of starch plus peas or beans in just about every peasant cuisine - and that's why the recipes are not in cookbooks, the dishes are originally poor-folk food. Think of the English "pease pudding" (thick pea-soup, basically) and a hunk of bread. Migrants, pilgrims, slaves - all brought their preferences with them to their new countries and then had to adapt their "recipes" to whatever was available. The explanation for the particular combination in Louisiana will lie in its history.

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There is some sort of starch plus peas or beans in just about every peasant cuisine - and that's why the recipes are not in cookbooks, the dishes are originally poor-folk food.

True, these dishes don't tend to end up in cookbooks, but some do as they are important local of even festival dishes. In the region, there seen to be numerous variations on the theme of rice and beans that have specific names (Casamiento, Moros y Cristianos, Congri, Gallo pinto). Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians) is a dish that is also found in Spain.

One obvious thing to do is to make a list of the names of of the various dishes like those I have mentioned, then look for any likely links in older source material. Apart from the beans type, what is the difference between the Cuban Moros y Cristianos and the red bean and rice Cuban dish that you mention?

Also, what is the origin of the red beans? Is it a strain that was specifically brought in from outside the region or is it a local bean that has been substituted into an outside recipe?

The same with the rice. Who was eating rice and when in the region?

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OK, it seems that "Congri" is a name of a rice and bean dish found in both Cuba and Lousiana. In the latter case it refers to black-eyed peas/beans (which are of African origin), in the former red beans (mostly). Congri was also an important part of some 19th C voodoo rituals and also a feast dish. It could be that "Congri" made a transition to "red rice and beans" as part of some attempt at santisation or if it became an upwardly mobile dish.

Onother angle is that as NO already had a dish of this name, if the Cuban dish of the same name was introduced at a later date, then it would be logical that the latter would loose its original name. Obviously, you would have to compare recipes to determine if there was any truth in this.

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Congris just means black-eyed peas in Louisiana French, and the versions of Hoppin' John served down here were once called Jambalaya au Congris. I know who was doing the washing on Mondays, and I know how West Africans brought beans & rice dishes to the whole of the caribbean. The question is whether it was the Haitians or somebody else who brought the dish to LA, and how the modern version evolved. I see an implicit link (the ingredients in the Louisiana & Haitian versions are remarkably similar) as well as opportunity (the influx of refugees from the St Domingue slave revolt in 1790). I just want some third party somewhere with some academic or gastronomic credibility to offer something that confirms or rejects my theory.

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Congris just means black-eyed peas in Louisiana French, and the versions of Hoppin' John served down here were once called Jambalaya au Congris.  I know who was doing the washing on Mondays, and I know how West Africans brought beans & rice dishes to the whole of the caribbean.  The question is whether it was the Haitians or somebody else who brought the dish to LA, and how the modern version evolved.  I see an implicit link (the ingredients in the Louisiana & Haitian versions are remarkably similar) as well as opportunity (the influx of refugees from the St Domingue slave revolt in 1790).  I just want some third party somewhere with some academic or gastronomic credibility to offer something that confirms or rejects my theory.

Then I would contact John Folse directly.

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Or Marcelle Beinvenue. She posts here from time to time. She can be reached through the New Orleans Times-Picayune, I think.

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I believe that you will not only want to look in Louisiana, but also in the Low Country in the Carolinas.

My understanding has always been that they "starch on starch" thing came by way of slaves coming from the sugar cane plantations in the Caribbean into the Carolinas and New Orleans-hence the popularity of red beans and rice on the Gulf coast and Hoppin John in the Carolinas (though neither, certainly, is limited to just those geographic regions).

I am working on a piece on Hoppin John right now for a publication and I just ran across something confirming this the other night-I'll see if I can find it again for you.

Hoppin John History 1

Hoppin John 2

Hoppin John 3

I assume, and have always assumed, that red beans and rice came as a derivative of this dish. I don't think that theory is far off of the mark.

Good luck with your thesis. Don't mumble and wear a clean shirt. You'll do fine.

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Congris just means black-eyed peas in Louisiana French, and the versions of Hoppin' John served down here were once called Jambalaya au Congris.  I know who was doing the washing on Mondays, and I know how West Africans brought beans & rice dishes to the whole of the caribbean.  The question is whether it was the Haitians or somebody else who brought the dish to LA, and how the modern version evolved.  I see an implicit link (the ingredients in the Louisiana & Haitian versions are remarkably similar) as well as opportunity (the influx of refugees from the St Domingue slave revolt in 1790).  I just want some third party somewhere with some academic or gastronomic credibility to offer something that confirms or rejects my theory.

Actually, "Congris" is most likely a contraction of the creole "congo y riz", Congo and rice. "Congo" peas = gungo pigeon pea = goongoo pea = gunga pea = gungo pea = congo pea = congo bean = no-eyed peas = gandules (Cajanus cajan). Like black-eyed peas/crowder peas (Vigna unguiculata) they are old world peas (actually beans).

Seems pretty obvious that the Lousiana version is derivative, with gungo peas being substituted for the locally common black-eyed/crowder peas. Find the region where gungo peas were historically common and you most likely have the original source.

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But....then again, they all may have originated independantly of each other. Given that the beans and rice together make a complete protein, it may have evolved as an inexpensive and tasty dietary opportunity!

I threw John Folse's name out there for 2 reasons..the first is that he's a pretty meticulous historian, and second he is a teacher, Or at least he runs a culinary program South of New Orleans in Thibideaux @ Nicholls State. You've got some great leads, now sic em.

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"Congo" peas = gungo pigeon pea = goongoo pea = gunga pea = gungo pea = congo pea = congo bean = no-eyed peas = gandules (Cajanus cajan). Like black-eyed peas/crowder peas (Vigna unguiculata) they are old world peas (actually beans).

This is fascinating. Congo peas must be the same as the "Carlin Peas" I vaguely remember as a child in Yorkshire. They were traditionally eaten on "Carlin Sunday" - the Sunday before Palm Sunday. I have no idea why that connection! They were eaten out of paper, like fish and chips, with vinegar.

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Moros y christianos

Black beans and rice in Cuba

I believe Spain has some influence in this story- the slave trade- the African people bringing their flavours. Brazil also has a variation of beans and rice.

All of the Caribbean

The common variables are Africans and Spanish and the old world- did not beans come from there (South America) - the Spanish were there too.

steve

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My understanding has always been that they "starch on starch" thing came by way of slaves coming from the sugar cane plantations in the Caribbean into the Carolinas and New Orleans-hence the popularity of red beans and rice on the Gulf coast and Hoppin John in the Carolinas (though neither, certainly, is limited to just those geographic regions).

beans and rice are not starch on starch - they are the protein

staples in a vegetarian diet; and must have been recognized

as such among people for whom meat was a rare luxury....

someone upthread suggested that this combination evolved

independently in most bean eating cultures of the world

and the ubiquitousness of dal and rice, or rajmah (kidney beans) or

other whole beans (=not split like dals) and rice in Indian cooking

supports that idea.....

Milagai


Edited by Milagai (log)

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Congris just means black-eyed peas in Louisiana French, and the versions of Hoppin' John served down here were once called Jambalaya au Congris.  I know who was doing the washing on Mondays, and I know how West Africans brought beans & rice dishes to the whole of the caribbean.  The question is whether it was the Haitians or somebody else who brought the dish to LA, and how the modern version evolved.  I see an implicit link (the ingredients in the Louisiana & Haitian versions are remarkably similar) as well as opportunity (the influx of refugees from the St Domingue slave revolt in 1790).  I just want some third party somewhere with some academic or gastronomic credibility to offer something that confirms or rejects my theory.

Actually, "Congris" is most likely a contraction of the creole "congo y riz", Congo and rice. "Congo" peas = gungo pigeon pea = goongoo pea = gunga pea = gungo pea = congo pea = congo bean = no-eyed peas = gandules (Cajanus cajan). Like black-eyed peas/crowder peas (Vigna unguiculata) they are old world peas (actually beans).

Seems pretty obvious that the Lousiana version is derivative, with gungo peas being substituted for the locally common black-eyed/crowder peas. Find the region where gungo peas were historically common and you most likely have the original source.

From the USDA Forest Service

Range.—Pigeon pea probably originated in India,

but may have come from Africa. Both are centers

of diversity for the genus Cajanus. It is clear that

the species has been under cultivation for a long

time and was spread by traders thousands of years

ago. The wild progenitor may be Cajanus

cajanifolius (Haines) van der Maesen of India and

Myanmar (van der Maesen 1990). Today, pigeon

pea is cultivated throughout the tropics and has

naturalized in many areas including Florida,

Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (Liogier

1988, Long and Lakela 1976).

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Also, further south I was exposed to Guandu & Rice in Panama; guandu being different than black or red beans, but still the protein/starch combination similar to other Central and South American nations.

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I also stumbled across this:

All the evidence gathered to date points to peninsular India as the place where pigeonpea originated. The name "pigeonpea" probably originated in the Americas, where it reached sometime in the 15th Century, because the seeds were found to be favoured by pigeons.

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The Kidney bean know as “Phaseolus Vulgaris” also know as the common bean and it probably originated from a bean from Peru that was developed by the Incas. In Brazil Rice and beans ("arroz e feijão" or "feijão com arroz"- in Portugeuse) has been part of their culture f or over 400 years and Brazil was one of the first countries to cultivate rice. Moros y christianos the Cuban version once again ties itself to spain. The conquering Spanish and with help from the Dutch and Portuguese who were also big in slave trading, this made Brazil become one of biggest ports of the area and beans one of the most traded commodities in the new world. Brazil was a major trading post in slaves as well as in food so the slaves who mostly originated from Africa brought their food styles with them. In Brazil alone there is many versions of beans and rice using different kinds of beans and cooking methods. Some cook the products separate then add while others like the Cubans cooked them together.

From Brazil and all down the coast and into the Caribbean and finally the American coast you have so many variations of beans and rice, why is that? As I said before the common variables are the Spanish- Portuguese who were one of the first and largest slave traders and with the Dutch and Spanish and of course the African Slaves who made this combo a main part of their diet.

Louisiana was also a major trading post being a Spanish colony and French then American. All the big players of the day brought the commodities in Louisiana to trade. Many peoples made Louisiana home, the African slaves (Creoles) and the French Acadians (Cajuns) and the Germans become part of the food fabric.

The Caribbean and all of South America and southern states was under different colonial rule, each one left their mark.

steve

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I thought it was slave or ship food; partly what could be grown, but partly what could be stored on ship, easily prepared and served and also nutritious.

What is more surprising is where it does not appear:

It does not appear, for example in the Williamsburg Art of Cookery in 1742, nor is it in Fanny Farmer's Boston cooking School (my copy is 1924), nor in Countess Morphy;s "Recipes of all Nations", despite chapters on Amreican and seperately on Creole cuisine. Thus I would assume it to be quite local.

Of course there are many bean stews, often flavoured with bacon, such as Boston baked beans, and even cassoulet, which may have been served with rice and from which the dish could be adapted.

The Williamsburg Art of Cookery is a compilation of stuff, some from the 18th century, some from the 19th, and some just good old fashion VA recipes most of them modern. It is not a reliable historical document.

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"Congo" peas = gungo pigeon pea = goongoo pea = gunga pea = gungo pea = congo pea = congo bean = no-eyed peas = gandules (Cajanus cajan). Like black-eyed peas/crowder peas (Vigna unguiculata) they are old world peas (actually beans).

This is fascinating. Congo peas must be the same as the "Carlin Peas" I vaguely remember as a child in Yorkshire. They were traditionally eaten on "Carlin Sunday" - the Sunday before Palm Sunday. I have no idea why that connection! They were eaten out of paper, like fish and chips, with vinegar.

No they are not. Oddly enough I have been doing some investigation of these peas. The Carlin peas (and parching peas) are Pisum sativum, in almost all cases now are from the "Maple" pea type, which in seems to be mentioned as a type of Rouncival pea in some texts. This type of pea was replaced in the most part with improved garden peas and marrow fat peas. Now they are mostly grown as animal food and fodder, hence the confusion in names. There are a very common part of a mix for pigeons, and often go under the name of "pigeon pea". They are not true "pigeon peas" (Cajanus cajan), which will not grow in the UK in commercial quantities.

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"Congo" peas = gungo pigeon pea = goongoo pea = gunga pea = gungo pea = congo pea = congo bean = no-eyed peas = gandules (Cajanus cajan). Like black-eyed peas/crowder peas (Vigna unguiculata) they are old world peas (actually beans).

This is fascinating. Congo peas must be the same as the "Carlin Peas" I vaguely remember as a child in Yorkshire. They were traditionally eaten on "Carlin Sunday" - the Sunday before Palm Sunday. I have no idea why that connection! They were eaten out of paper, like fish and chips, with vinegar.

No they are not. Oddly enough I have been doing some investigation of these peas. The Carlin peas (and parching peas) are Pisum sativum, in almost all cases now are from the "Maple" pea type, which in seems to be mentioned as a type of Rouncival pea in some texts. This type of pea was replaced in the most part with improved garden peas and marrow fat peas. Now they are mostly grown as animal food and fodder, hence the confusion in names. There are a very common part of a mix for pigeons, and often go under the name of "pigeon pea". They are not true "pigeon peas" (Cajanus cajan), which will not grow in the UK in commercial quantities.

Even more fascinating! A pigeon pea by any other name is not the same .....

Adam: Has your research turned up any reason why the Carlin pea is associated with the Sunday before Palm Sunday?

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