Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rice and Beans

I grew up eating rice at just about every supper.  Rice and gravy.  I am southern, after all.

Mom doesn't cook like she used to when she had three boys in the house, but if she did I would occasionally ask her to cook some fried chicken with rice and gravy.

But we don't fry anything anymore, and gravy will apparently send you to your grave.  Hence the name.

I found out later why we ate rice all the time instead of mashed potatos, which was a staple in Pam's family: Dad doesnn't care for mashed potatos, and they are a real pain to make.  The real ones, not the ones from the box.

Boiling some rice is a lot easier.

Also, when I was growing up beans meant green beans.  The modifier was never needed if you were talking about green beans.  If you were talking any other kind of bean, then a modifier was needed.  Kidney beans.  Red beans.  Lima beans.  But we never said green beans.  If Mom said we were having beans for supper, we knew we were eating green beans.

Fried chicken, rice and gravy, and beans.  At least once a week.  Man, I miss those days.

One thing we never had was red beans and rice, which, when I think about it, is kinda weird.  If the Eubanks side of the family is decidedly English in origin, there is a strong French Louisiana strain on my mother's side.  Mom would fix shrimp creole, and gumbo is a huge treat in my family, but we never had red beans and rice.

I was an adult when I first had some red beans and rice, and I loved them.  When we lived in Georgia Pam and I would take the kids to Biloxi once or even twice a year to visit The Ladies.  One day I happened to mention to Grandmother that I liked red beans and rice but never got any.  The next day there was a pot of it waiting for me.

My Grandmother loves me.

And every trip thereafter, when we'd arrive at Nonie's house, there would be a big pot of red beans and rice.  (And a big pot of gumbo.  Made from scratch. The Ladies never made anything from a box.)  I'd toss some Tabasco in a bowl and have at it.  And would end up taking a couple of quarts home to Georgia.

One day I mentioned to Mom that Grandmother would cook me enough red beans and rice every trip down to feed an army, and she said that when she was a little girl they used to eat red beans and rice all the time.  Back during the Depression.  Rice was cheap, and so were red beans, so that's what they ate.  She said that they ate it so much that she got sick of it and doesn't ever want to eat red beans and rice again.

And there you have it.  Mom didn't fix red beans and rice because it reminded her of growing up in the Depression.

Beans and rice.  Rice and beans.  Depression food.  Food you eat when you can't afford to eat fried chicken, rice and gravy, and beans.

There's a difference between eating something because you like it, and eating something because you have to, even if you do like it.

This is the part of the Five Day Food and Water Challenge that I'm doing OK with.  Plain oatmeal, plain cream of wheat--ugh.  Rice and black beans, or red beans, or even just regular beans?  Yeah, I eat that anyway.

But I choose to.  Much of the world doesn't get that choice. 

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