Monday, August 5, 2013

Hoppin John from Senegal to San Francisco

On Saturday I attended the SF Chefs event @ Union Square in San Francisco.

SF Chefs is San Francisco's premier food, wine and spirits festival. Set on San Francisco's legendary Union Square and at venues throughout the City, the festival offers numerous opportunities to mingle with master chefs, mixologists, winemakers, brewers and other culinary superstars!
The day started with an early class featuring SF chef Michael Tusk (Cotogna & Quince) and Sean Brock (McCrady's, Husk Charleston & Husk Nashville).

yummy - homemade pasta and ;amb dish by Michael Tusk

Both chefs were excellent but I was really impressed and surprised by the dish prepared by Sean Brock. Sean has his roots in rural Virginia and the low country of the south. Sean has made several recent trips to West Africa and shared with us a dish he learned how to prepare in Senegal. The dish is Hoppin John. Sean was able to sneak some of the African ingredients from Senegal and used them to prepare the dish.  he explained to the audience the one dish eating style of the African people and you could tell that he was very respectful of the culture he had been fortunate enough to be a part of.
pictured in fore ground - chef Sean Brock

The dish was spectacular!!  
Hoppin John by Sean Brock

Hoppin' John
is a peas and rice dish served in the Southern United States. It is made with black-eyed peas (Sean used field peas) and rice, chopped onion, sliced bacon, and seasoned with a bit of salt. (Some people substitute ham hock, fatback, or country sausage for the conventional bacon). John used lamb.  Some use green peppers or vinegar and spices. Smaller than black-eyed peas, field peas are used in the Low Country of South Carolina and Georgia; black-eyed peas are the norm elsewhere.
Hoppin' John was originally a Low Country food before spreading to the entire population of the South. Hoppin' John may have evolved from rice and bean mixtures that were the subsistence of enslaved West Africans en route to the Americas. Hoppin' John has been further traced to similar foods in West Africa, in particular the Senegalese dish, thiebou niebe.

Sean claims that traditional Hoppin' John was made with the now-extinct Carolina gold rice, and Sea Island Red Beans. However, there are currently a number of Carolina Gold rice growers who offer the product for sale in limited distribution.

(note) Sean told us about broken rice (broken rice is a grade of rice consisting of grains broken in the milling process) and says he buys all of the rice he used from one source

 our dish in Senegal

Rinse and sort beans. Boil 4 quarts of spring/distilled or filtered water. Stir in peas and thyme. cover, then lower heart and cook until peas are tender about 30 minutes. In a separate port, bring 3 cups of spring/distilled or filtered water to boil. Stir in rice, then cover, lower heat and cook until rice is tender about 40 minutes. Combine rice and peas and season to taste.

Happy new Year - One tradition common in the USA is that each person at the meal should leave three peas on their plate to ensure that the New Year will be filled with luck, fortune and romance. Another tradition holds that counting the number of peas in a serving predicts the amount of luck (or wealth) that the diner will have in the coming year.

This is a traditional African American dish for News Years Day since enslavement. Hoppin John may have a few African sources. Jon is a Senegalese word meaning dignified and respectable. John is the Anglicized word for Shango the West African diety who resurrects after death. He is also the perfect son. And he rules over dance and music.

After class we joined the fun in the big tent where we sampled foods from many local restaurants along with lots of wine and specialty cocktails.

The Grand Tasting Tent on Union Square features over 200 of San Francisco's finest restaurants, bars, distilleries, breweries & wineries displaying their finest creations. At venues throughout the City there are classes, demonstrations, panels, dinners and special parties—a little something for every palate!

What a great time we had.
Thank you Farryn for inviting us!

Sf Chefs 2012

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