Red Beans & Rice

RedBeansandRiceWith life in general, it seems I’ve been traveling a curvilinear path starting with simplicity, then toward complexity, now back to simplicity. My mid-20s were all about how many ingredients I could put in a dish – I fancy I could make it. I had something to prove, apparently. Now, I’ve come to re-appreciate the value of simplicity, in large part because I think simplicity allows food to speak more clearly and be less cluttered. More ingredients are okay, but they each need to mean something to the dish. Conceptually, it’s the same thing – it’s okay to get fancy, as long as fancy means something.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from fancy is red beans & rice. A New Orleans tradition since way back when, red beans & rice fall into utilitarian and comfort food categories we’ve created to nostalgically reminisce about more simple times of the past. It’s doubtful that nearly as many people need to spend all day Monday tending house, a task chain that originally necessitated the simple meal that would become rice & beans, but what we do need to is to remember the time when we did need to spend Mondays in that way. Somehow it connects us with our past, our history.

Red Beans & Rice has also become more than just a way to remember the past, but an excuse to get together as a group. A huge pot of Red Beans & Rice is tough to eat by oneself, even spread out over the course of a week. By fixing a pot, we create the need for community – for people to come over and share a dish. So, on this Monday, I raise my glass to you, Red Beans & Rice.

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Bobby Caples graduated from USF, and eventually went on to expand the concept of community-based behavior support in other settings, include the organization he founded called YouthBASE (Greenville, SC). The concept of YouthBASE was much like the concept of his thesis, only on a larger scale: Take ideas and strategies that had found success in other fields beyond after-school programs, and import them.