Come Lundi Gras, you can catch a several hundred Camellia red beans—uncooked—in the handmade bean suits belonging to members of the Krewe of Red Beans. Camellia is an official sponsor, believing in the central power of a good bean for the cooking and the party.
But bean suits and parades are just one way folks—locals and outsiders alike—show love for this dish. Louis Armstrong loved red beans and rice so much that he used to sign his letters “Red beans and ricely yours.” He had his own favorite recipe, too. Red beans and rice have made cameos in songs from local boys like Dr. John and Charlie Daniels to more national acts like Steely Dan and ZZ Top. Michael Franti and Spearhead gave red beans and rice their own song on their 1994 album, “Home.”
There’s nothing quite like New Orleans’ ultimate comfort food. Most locals believe it’s best simmering on your own stovetop all day, some of the beans smashed up for a creamy feel and then served with your favorite hot sauce. Give Louis’ recipe a whirl or try Camellia’s. It’s a pretty hard dish to completely screw up, but then again, the devil is in the details. The ultimate compliment is scraping clean the bottom of the pot.
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