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Where Is The Rice?

Where Is The Rice?

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

One year my children and I joined some members of our church in making dinner for male residents of a YMCA in their forties and over. Many of them could best be described as brothers, fathers, uncles, and grandfathers estranged from their families for various and sundry reasons. The residents of the Y slowly poured into the make shift dining room in the church’s fellowship hall and started through the buffet line filling their plates. They then sat and enjoyed the food with many raving about how good it all tasted. A short time later, an African American Y resident in his fifties  started through the line filling his plate like the previous men, but stopped half way through the buffet line with a confused look on his face. I asked, what’s the matter? He said with a heavy southern accent, “Where is the rice?” I said you must be from the Carolinas? He said “yup I’m from South Carolina.” The exchange reminded of the centrality of rice in the culinary history of many parts of the Americas where slave traders imported thousands of Africans from the West African rice belt between Cape Verde and the Gold Coast.

In Cuba, the Carolinas, and the West Indies most would regard a meal as incomplete without rice. 

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