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Rice and Beans: A Unique Dish in a Hundred Places Paperback – August 1, 2012
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This is an academically-focussed collection of essays looking at various aspects of rice and beans, a meal that is very popular in a broad area encompassing Western Africa, the Caribbean and North, South and Central America. Various theories are espoused as to how two simple staple items could be unique in their own right yet combined into a "different" dish shared by many countries, such as a common history, links to slavery and other trades. Even historical events, such as a fleeing Portuguese prince seeking refuge in Brazil who needed to find how to quickly and affordably feed an army, are shown as a key introducer to the dish for a whole new country.
Clearly this book is not going to be for everyone, yet it need not be solely confined to those who study matters such as food science, anthropology or history. The essays are capable of being enjoyed by a "generalist" as well as each essay is totally independent to each other, linked only by a common theme. For those who require the detail there is, as one would expect, a mass of bibliographic references for further research.
One cannot give a universal recommendation to this book through no fault of its own. You won't get a lot of recipes or be a better cook, but you will be more informed and knowledgeable after reading it. If it matches you interests or needs then it will deliver!