When it comes to the traditional favorite known as red beans and rice (Oryza Sativa), most know it’s a dish that originates from Louisiana. However, there’s a whole lot more than meets the eye with this Louisiana favorite, so let’s dig a little deeper into the history of red beans and rice.…
Although the bean plant did originate in America, Oryza Sativa was actually native to West Africa. The grain bearing plant was introduced to America when African slaves were forced by the Spanish to move to Louisiana during the New World era.
Because the crop was easy to grow in the harsh swamps of the state, it became an important food staple to both African slaves and Louisianans.
Eventually food grew scarce and the well-known Louisiana dish became a household staple in almost every home because of its inexpensive cost. In addition to its two main ingredients the dish also included onion, celery and an assortment of herbs and spices.
And while it may not seem like a very nutritious meal, the dish is actually high in protein, iron and vitamin B, despite the starch content.
Of course back then, not many were worried about how healthy their diet really was. Food was food. Sometimes if there was meat available a ham bone was added to the pot or a pork chop or side of sausage was served along side the dish.
The dish was not just popular because of its inexpensive costs, however. Originally it was made on Mondays when women could wash the laundry while the pot simmered, leaving them to tend to their chores.
Today red beans and rice are no longer just for Mondays. The popular dish is considered a favorite during Mardi Gras, football season and family reunions. Even the local restaurants have jumped on the red beans and rice bandwagon.
Red beans and rice is one of the few New Orleans style dishes to be commonly cooked both in people’s homes and in restaurants. Many neighborhood restaurants continue to offer it as a Monday lunch special, usually with a side order of either smoked sausage or a pork chop.
And while Monday washdays are largely a thing of the past, the history of Red Beans and Rice continues to grow, and the dish remains a staple for large gatherings such as Super Bowl and Mardi Gras parties.