If you’re from New Orleans, you know that Camellia Beans are essential to making rich and creamy red beans and rice. It’s a city tradition on Mondays, passed down from the days when housewives put a pot of beans on the stove while they washed clothes, utilizing the ham hock leftover from Sunday's supper. My momma was serious about using Camellia Beans, and she passed this knowledge on to me. She even mailed me packages when I lived in Los Angeles to make sure my beans were the real thing.
Don’t take my word for Camellia Beans being a vital part of culinary living in South Louisiana. The Southern Food & Beverage Museum of New Orleans honors this traditional foodway with a permanent exhibit opening Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017. “Red Bean City” looks at the popular red beans and rice dish, along with the fourth generation business. Special events will mark its opening.
Thursday, Aug. 3: Exhibit opens and visitors can take a photo with the Red Bean Car from 4-5:30 p.m. Camellia will also host a panel of New Orleans food culture and bean experts — David Beriss, Leah Chase, Poppy Tooker and Vince Hayward — to discuss the beloved dish of red beans and rice, led by historian Rien Fertel.
Saturday, Aug. 5: Free entry to the museum and complimentary tastes of red beans, plus the first 100 visitors will receive a free bag of red beans and kids will enjoy Bean Art from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The exhibit, created by Fertel, includes beans and rice traditions around the world, red bean secrets, history of the Hayward family of Camellia Beans and more. The Krewe of Red Beans marches at Mardi Gras and participants can also don a Krewe of Red Beans costume and snap a "parade" selfie.
Cheré Coen is a food and travel writer who loves her momma's red beans and rice!