Rice & Beans For the Soul

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Every recipe has a story, and our Rice & Beans is no exception.  At Red Rabbit, we soak red kidney beans overnight, add our homemade green and red pepper sofrito and season with cumin and tomato paste, served with a side of mashed plantains and kale. 

Of course, there are hundreds of variations on the classic Rice & Beans dish. We asked our Red Rabbit employees to share some of their memories of eating rice and beans when they were growing up and what this dish means to them.  Here is what they had to say.  We hope you will share your own stories with us in the comments section- we'd love to hear them. 

Brandon McBride, Customer Experience Manager And His Daughter Hannah, 12

"Ask anyone from Southeastern Louisiana this question, 'What are we having for lunch this Monday?'  and their answer will be, 'The same thing we have every Monday...duh!'

A0802805-CBB8-43AF-8B2D-11C5DA271B0B (1)-596986-edited.jpgIt's probably the most practiced tradition in Louisiana history. You know how we all have memories of our early childhood? The  first meal I remember eating was my grandmother's Red Beans and Rice. I was probably 3 or 4 years old and my brother was 6 or 7. My grandmother made two plates of red beans and rice with sausage. She placed one in front of my brother and she asked him, 'Would you like some tabasco sauce?'

He said yes and she poured just a dab on his plate. It was so pungent that I could smell it across the table.

'Would you like some on yours, Brandon?'

'No thanks Maw Maw. Just beans and rice for this kid.'

To this day, I still eat mine plain. Light on the rice and heavy on the beans. Now that I'm a New Yorker, I think that I'll try eating some Great Northerners (a.k.a white beans).

Naeema Arrastia-Rateau And Her Daughter Aleesia, 3 

image1 (14).jpg"For me, rice and beans means home. My parents were foster parents and at any given time, we had 13 kids in the house and my mom had to feed them all. My mother received WIC benefits and she always wanted to provide us with a balanced and nutritious  meal.

Rather than buying us processed food, she made sure she cooked efficiently and got the biggest bang for her buck. That's why rice and beans was a constant at our house. Sometimes she added potatoes or other vegetables to it. It's a dish that you can add anything to and it will still taste great. For many families, but for 13 kids especially, meat was really expensive. My mother knew how important it was to get a complex protein on the plate so she added a fried egg and a plantain to the dish.

To this day, rice and beans is a very comforting dish for me. I make it for my daughter, Alessia, with the same fried egg, and she loves it. If I had to choose my last meal, it would be my mom's rice and beans with a fried egg on top, hands down.

Rhys Powell, Red Rabbit Founder and his son Zane, 2 

IMG_2890 (1).jpg"Peas & Rice is a national dish in the Bahamas. It accompanied at least five of seven dinners each week when I was growing up.  My grandmother made the best peas & rice. As a growing teenage boy, I would eat 2 or 3 plates by myself. She knew how much I loved it, so she would protect the pot until I came over from church on Sunday's. 

Most Caribbean countries have some variation of this dish, however, the Bahamas is the only country that refers to the dish as 'Peas & Rice' (with the peas before the rice) versus the more common Rice & Peas, or Rice & Beans. It's made with pigeon peas, which are soaked for many hours beforehand. This creates a very unpleasant smell in the kitchen. The rice is then cooked in a tomato and onion stew, which gives it a brown color. 

I haven't made Peas & Rice for my son Zane yet. It's a cultural institution in the Bahamas and I don't feel worthy to make that dish. But he gets to eat the real thing when we visit each year. "

Manny Ramirez, Packout Team

 "I'm half and half - that's Puerto Rican and Dominican - two major rice and bean eating cultures, so you bet I grew up eating that for dinner. 

image1 (1)-005300-edited.pngFor something so familiar, rice and beans are sort of mysterious to me at the same time. My abuela, my Dad's mom, was in charge and when she was in the kitchen, no one else was allowed in there. 

Her name was Marciana Martinez, and she moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic. We still have a lot of cousins, aunts and uncles there so I've been back to visit a lot. Our town, Salcedo, is well-known because it is where the Mirabal sisters, who defied the dictator Trujillo in the 50s, was from. That's when a lot of Dominicans left for New York, and my grandma was one of them. 

Whatever she did in the kitchen, it worked. It brought the family together, my mom and my four older sisters: the twins, Tais, and Taisha, and Melanie and Giannis. Being the youngest, I made everyone watch cartoons during dinner. 

I still haven't found anyone who makes  rice and beans better than my abuela. The day I find someone who does, I'll probably have to marry them." 


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