The Rice Kingdom and Trinidad’s Merikans

Last December I had the great pleasure of taking part in the inaugural Hill Rice Symposium in Trinidad that Francis Morean organized. The occasion also marked the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Merikans to Trinidad.

A Hill Rice Field in Trinidad, Dec. 2017

David Shields, the preeminent scholar of heirloom rice varieties (and Lowcountry food history generally), Chef J Dennis, and Queen Quet of the Gullah/Geechee Nation all represented South Carolina at the event. Adding in farmers, scholars and archivists from Trinidad and Dr. Tony Richards of Antigua, the conferees shared much with each other.

Left to right: David Shields, Queen Quet, Tony Richards, BJ Dennis and farmer John Elliott

Jill Neimark wrote a fine account of the Merikans, red bearded rice and renewed connections of food and culture in the African Diaspora for The Salt. Red bearded rice is thought to be the descendant of native West African rice otherwise known as Oryza glaberrima. David Shields penned a more detailed account of this in The Carolina Gold Rice Foundation’s site.


John Elliot’s rice drying room

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