America Eats Notes on New Orleans Part 1 Red Beans and Rice
I have been going through my cash of WPA food sources from the Great Depression era found in the archives of the Library of Congress in Washington DC. What follows today and in moving forward are content from the Louisiana folder titled approximately America Eats Notes, Reports, and Essays. I have attempted to produce the content in a paraphrased format when necessary to make them legible and indirect quotes as often as possible.
Red Beans and Rice
In New Orleans home cooks mastered the art of creating economical dishes for weekday meals. Among them red beans and rice which is to New Orleans what baked beans are to Boston and cowpeas to Charleston. Those who could put lard in their beans called themselves prosperous. To do it right the cook would soak red beans in water until the skin of the bean shriveled. Then they cooked the beans for several hours until thick and creamy in a deep cast-iron pot with chopped onions, garlic, a slice of pork of some kind, a tablespoon of lard, and salt and pepper. The beans are always served with rice boiled in steam until each grain sits proudly separate. At one time one could purchase the necessary ingredients to make this this as little as five cents.
Read about the history of the civil rights movement in New Orleans in the new book Southern Food and Civil Rights: Feeding the Revolution