BY MONICA DIX . FLORIDA . USA
I fell in love with the idea that a whole city could communally relieve the irritation of a Monday (and monotonous chores) by cooking the same all-day, low-maintenance, perfectly-shareable pot of beans. I have never been to New Orleans, but I think it is one of my country’s character cities. So when I read Sara Roahen’s story* of how New Orleans emerged from Hurricane Katrina, I was hooked (*published in Best Food Writing 2008, Find it on Amazon ).
The year before Katrina, Hurricane Charley hit our coast. Our coffeehouse on Sanibel Island was the first to reopen, and our wifi and ‘town meeting place’ made our shop a hub of activity as residents came back to the island. When Katrina hit, we had thought it would be us, but we were lucky, only sympathetic onlookers. Charley was stressful, but for us, not traumatic. We didn’t cook red beans and rice, but I wish we had! Beans unify and fortify a tribe through rough days and rougher seasons.
Beans are both humble and powerful. You can read more about the history of red beans and rice in New Orleans here.