June 12, 2010; New Orleans: It’s been 8 years since I gave this talk at the first BEANS + RICE conference presented by the Historic New Orleans Collection and the Ray Charles Program at Dillard University. The “Culinary and Cultural Odyssey” was a day-long event featuring talks by scholars, professors, a documentary filmmaker, culinary historians, a grower, a distributor, chefs, an archaeologist, a curator, and food and travel writers. I was part of Session I: Connections: Diffusion of Beans and Rice in the New World, and had to follow speeches by Jessica B Harris, Judith Carney, Maricel Presilla, Myron Beasley, and Patricia Wilson, PhDs all. Needless to say, I talked about hoppin’ john, the dish.
When I recently gave my papers to the College of Charleston Special Collections, I ran across videos of the conference, which I did not remember existed. Here’s a video of my talk, a version of which appeared the following year in the journal Gastronomica.
When I attend conferences, I always try to get out to explore the markets and restaurants. I was saddened to hear of Arthur Robinson’s death back in February. Affectionately known as “Mr. Okra,” Robinson will always be remembered for his vividly painted truck and his songs that hark back to the street vendors from all the old southern port cities. R.I.P.