Rice and Beans is a book about the paradox of local and global. On the one hand, this is a globe-spanning dish, a simple source of complete nutrition for billions of people in hundreds of countries. On the other hand, in every place people insist that rice and beans is a local invention, deeply rooted in a particular history and culture. How can something so universal also be so particular?
The authors of this book explore the specific history of the versions of rice and beans beloved and indigenous in cultures from Brazil to West Africa. But they also plumb the shared African, Native American and European trans-Atlantic encounters and exchanges, and the contemporary forces of globalization and nation-building, which combine to make rice and beans a powerful substance and symbol of the relationship between food and culture.