The Bean Scene

The Bean Scene's Shift Toward Latin American Cuisine in New Orleans

By Rachel Strassel

Click aqui para español->Consumo de frijoles

There’s no denying South Louisiana’s love for beans. After all, what’s Monday without red beans and rice? The bean business in New Orleans dates back to the 1850s, according to Vince Hayward, fourth-generation owner and CEO of the popular Camellia Brand beans.

Many New Orleanians will attest that the red kidney bean is king, but in the 13 years since Hurricane Katrina, it’s garnered some stiff competition from two other varieties— pintos and black beans. The consumption of pintos and black beans has increased significantly in the Crescent City following Katrina. This is due in large part to the cultural influence of the Latino community who came here post-storm to help rebuild.

Along with an “all-hands on deck” attitude, they brought family recipes and a cuisine heavy in pinto beans (Spanish for “painted”) and black beans. Local food personality Poppy Tooker describes New Orleans as a “city of two beans” (the red bean and the pinto bean). She says the community has especially embraced the pinto bean’s versatility, flavor and place on the table.

“Since most people didn’t have functioning kitchens following the storm, food outlets became gathering spots,” Tooker says. “Because beans were widely available and economical, it was easy to make a large pot to share with family, friends and neighbors.”

 With a wide array of ingredients at Latino markets throughout the city, locals have taken Latin American flavors and incorporated them into traditional New Orleans cuisine, as well. “We have been introduced to ingredients that come along with that style of cuisine,” Tooker said. “You find the flavors of the Hispanic kitchen showing up in surprising ways throughout the city.”

As they were for decades before Hurricane Katrina and in the 13 years since, beans of all varieties continue to serve an important role in the history and culture of New Orleans cuisine, Hayward notes. Camellia Brand distributes 18 varieties of beans, peas and lentils.

“Whenever I’m wearing a shirt with the Camellia logo, people stop me to talk about beans, to share memories or stories about their family, and ask for secret recipes,” he said. “Regardless of who you are, where you came from or what your background is, beans are most likely a part of your culinary heritage.”

Last modified onMonday, 22 October 2018 08:22
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Publisher's Note

I moved to the United States almost 20 years ago, and as a sports fan, I couldn't stand the fact that I did not understand how American football worked.

It was impossible not to get infected by the passion and the love New Orleanians have for the boys in the Black and Gold, so I made it a point to learn the basics and join the fun of watching the beloved Saints play.

I was lucky to suffer with a weak team only for a few years, and I was fortunate to be part of the WHO DAT Nation when they made it to the Super Bowl in Miami.

Even though the Super Bowl we wished for this year did not happen, our team gave us a great season, and off the field, many Saints players are doing so much for this community through their foundations and giving back some love to their fan base. Today, The Saints continue to be an essential driving force of our community.

It is amazing what passion and pride can do for the city of New Orleans. The Saints gave us an incredible season! I know we’ve had a few weeks of coping, and many people have decided to party away from television sets the night of the championship game, but I still want to thank the New Orleans Saints for all the joy they gave us this last season.

Like most of you, I'm always proud to yell out loud WHO DAT!

AnaMaria