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Thread: Finding a Lost Strain of Rice, and Clues to Slave Cooking

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    S.W. Florida

    Default Finding a Lost Strain of Rice, and Clues to Slave Cooking

    In fields dotting the Moruga Hills of southern Trinidad, growers tend rice plants that came from an African strain. It was carried there by slaves from coastal Georgia who had been granted land and freedom in exchange for joining the British military during the War of 1812.
    Credit: Carolina Gold Rice Foundation

    Among the biologists, geneticists and historians who use food as a lens to study the African diaspora, rice is a particularly deep rabbit hole. So much remains unknown about how millions of enslaved Africans used it in their kitchens and how it got to those kitchens to begin with.

    Thatís what made the hill rice in Trinidad such a find.

    The fat, nutty grain, with its West African lineage and tender red hull, was a favored staple for Southern home cooks during much of the 19th century. Unlike Carolina Gold, the versatile rice that until the Civil War was Americaís primary rice crop, the hill rice hadnít made Lowcountry plantation owners rich off the backs of slaves.

    It didnít need to be planted in watery fields surrounded by dikes, which meant that those who grew it werenít dogged by malaria. You could grow it in a garden patch, as did many of the slaves who had been taken from the rice-growing regions of West Africa. This was the rice of their ancestors, sustaining slaves and, later, generations of Southern cooks both black and white.

    Even Thomas Jefferson was a fan. Some researchers think he is the one who helped spread hill rice throughout the South, giving gifts of the African seed from a 30-gallon cask a ship captain brought him from Africa in 1790. But by World War I, the rice had all but disappeared, a victim both of cheaper imports that were easier to produce and of the Great Migration, in which millions of African-Americans left the rural South.
    Thatís why B.J. Dennis, a Gullah chef from Charleston, was stunned to find the rice growing in a field in Trinidad, tended by a farmer descended from slaves who once lived in Georgia.

    Finding a Lost Strain of Rice, and Clues to Slave Cooking (LINK)

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    Hope the voyage is a long one.
    May there be many a summer morning when,
    with what pleasure, what joy,
    you come into harbors seen for the first time...

    Ithaka, by Cavafy
    (Keeley - Sherrard translation)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Nantucket, MA. USA

    Default Re: Finding a Lost Strain of Rice, and Clues to Slave Cooking

    Thanks for that.

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