Rice and Resilience Part 1

08.29.2019 - By Point of Origin

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When we talk about terroir, it’s usually in the context of wine, and the human and environmental conditions that influence the characteristics. But on a recent visit to California, writer and cook Jasmine Lee began to ask questions about this framing, inspired by an heirloom variety of rice with a beautiful name called, Kokuho Rose. Jasmine, who comes from a lineage of rice merchants in Hong Kong, wondered  whether it was possible to think about expressions of the land; ie, terroir, without thinking of about the history and politics of land use in the United States. If this heirloom rice is an expression of the land it was grown on, it is also an expression of the trauma and perseverance with the family who worked that land. 
Next, Chef BJ Dennis tells us about his move to St. Thomas in 2004, where he encountered black folks from around the West Indies. Upon learning he was from the lowcountry, they preceded to share stories and insight about the Gullah Geechee, a distinctive culture of the  descendants of West Africa’s rice coast. The experience changed the trajectory of BJ’s career, catalyzing his calling as a chef and scholar of the culture. 
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