Rice and beans for New Year’s

Yesterday I felt impelled to cook rice and beans for the New Year’s holiday — some association with Hoppin’ John (Carolina peas and white rice) for New Year’s Day, I guess, though back in the old days (the 60s through 80s in Columbus OH), Ann and I mostly did red beans and (white) rice, with fried cornbread, on New Year’s Eve; and I had Moros y Cristianos (black beans and white rice, served at spring festivals in Spain, re-enacting the expulsion of the Moors — African Muslims of Arab descent — from Spain in 1492) in mind as well. What I produced wasn’t any of these, but a multicultural extravaganza I think of as Black and Brown: dal (Indian black lentils) and brown rice, cooked in miso soup. Yesterday I served it with tuna fish, fresh lemon juice (bounty from neighbors suffering from the annual December citrus glut), and (French) spices. Raw material for today’s version, whatever that turns out to be:

(#1) Black and Brown, in a Chinese bowl

Notes on ingredients. About the dal, see my 10/9/17 posting “Focus on the dal”, about lenses and lentils. An assortment of dals:

(#2) Dals: black, red, and common green lentils (everyday Western lentils are brown)

The rice: brown rice is “whole-grain rice with the inedible outer hull removed; white rice is the same grain with the hull, bran layer, and cereal germ removed” (Wikipedia).

The (instant) miso soup I cooked the beans and rice in:

(#3) Ingredients: miso stock, tofu, green onions, parsley, wakame (seaweed)

And the lemons. Around the Christmas season locally, citrus trees produce their ripe fruit: lemons, then oranges, tangerines, kumquats, and more. All at once, so that if you have citrus trees (as most of my neighbors do), you are suddenly knee-deep in citrus fruits. My neighbors put boxes of them by our mailboxes, for anyone to take. (Think: zucchini glut, but with citrus fruits. And in December and January.) A friend in San Francisco wrote recently on Facebook in some desperation, asking what she could do with all those lemons afflicting her; she was offered recipes for preserved lemons and for lemon marmalade (a good bit of trouble, but really yummy), and suggestions for freezing lemon stuff as ingredients (squeeze the juice into ice cube trays and freeze, or grate the rind and squeeze the juice and freeze together in 1/2 cup increments).

Notes on legumes and rice. On this blog on 2/11/15, in “Two more morning names”, information about the drug Midazalom, but also about Moros y Cristianos (black beans and white rice).

On Hoppin’ John, from Wikipedia:

Hoppin’ John, also known as Carolina peas and rice, is a peas and rice dish served in the Southern United States. It is made with black-eyed peas (or red cowpeas such as iron and clay peas in the Southeast US) and rice, chopped onion, sliced bacon, and seasoned with salt. In some recipes, instead of bacon, ham hock, fatback, country sausage, or smoked turkey parts are used. A few use green peppers or vinegar and spices. Smaller than black-eyed peas, field peas are used in the Low Country of South Carolina and Georgia; black-eyed peas are the norm elsewhere.

In the southern United States, eating Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day is thought to bring a prosperous year filled with luck.

… Hoppin’ John was originally a Low Country food before spreading to the entire population of the South. Hoppin’ John may have evolved from rice and bean mixtures that were the subsistence of enslaved West Africans en route to the Americas. Hoppin’ John has been further traced to similar foods in West Africa, in particular the Senegalese dish thiebou niebe.

On red beans and rice, from Wikipedia:

Red beans and rice is an emblematic dish of Louisiana Creole cuisine (not originally of Cajun cuisine) traditionally made on Mondays with red beans, vegetables (bell pepper, onion, and celery), spices (thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf) and pork bones as left over from Sunday dinner, cooked together slowly in a pot and served over rice. Meats such as ham, sausage (most commonly andouille and Chaurice), and tasso ham are also frequently used in the dish. The dish is customary — ham was traditionally a Sunday meal and Monday was washday. A pot of beans could sit on the stove and simmer while the women were busy scrubbing clothes. The dish is now fairly common throughout the Southeast. Similar dishes are common in Latin American cuisine, including moros y cristianos and gallo pinto.

Red beans and rice is one of the few New Orleans style dishes to be commonly served both in people’s homes and in restaurants.

… The vegetarian dish Rajma chawal is very similar (which translates literally to red beans and rice), popular in North India. Red beans and rice is also a dietary staple in Central America, where it is known as “arroz con habichuelas”. The dish is popular in Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Haitian and Jamaican cuisine as well.

And on gallo pinto, from Wikipedia:

Gallo pinto or gallopinto is a traditional dish of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, consisting of rice and beans as a base. Gallo pinto has a long history and is important to various Latin American cultures. The beans in gallo pinto are quickly cooked until the juice is almost consumed, then combined with readied rice, and other ingredients such as cooked bell peppers, chopped onions, and garlic.

2 Responses to “Rice and beans for New Year’s”

  1. chrishansenhome Says:

    My Puerto Rican boyfriends and others cooked red beans and rice in a different way. Olive oil heated in a pan, then some sofrito (mixture of vegetables like peppers and onions and garlic, available in jars), a couple of green stuffed olives, and a small piece of potato, using adobo in place of salt and pepper. Once these were heated, add a can of kidney beans and heat until warm enough for you. Serve over white rice. I don’t know how authentic this was–perhaps it was Bronx Red Beans and Rice. It sounds a bit rudimentary, but it was really delicious and filling.

  2. Sim Aberson Says:

    There are lots of wonderful rice and bean dishes across the Americas; many countries seem to have their own varieties. In addition to what you wrote about, there’s arroz con gandules (Puerto Rico), feijoada (Brazil), pabellón (Venezuela), rice and peas (Bahamas), etc., all with distinct flavors and colors.

    Another important New Years dish is jomou, a celebration of freedom for the slaves of Haiti on New Years Day 1803. I plan on making some tomorrow. There’s a good film about it at http://www.libertyinasoup.com.

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