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Rice and beans is a staple food in many cultures around the world. It provides several important nutrients, and is widely available.
Rice and beans is referred to as arroz y habas, arroz con habichuelas, arroz con frijoles or similar in Spanish, arroz e feijão or feijão com arroz, in Portuguese, diri ak pwa in Haitian Creole, Avas kon arroz or Avikas kon arroz in Judaeo-Spanish, and wali na maharage in Swahili.
The dish usually consists of white or brown rice accompanied by brown, red or black, dry beans (typically Phaseolus vulgaris or Vigna unguiculata) and seasoned in various ways. Different regions have different preferences. In Brazil, for example, black beans are more popular in Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, while in most other parts of the country these are mostly only used in feijoadas. The New Orleans specialty known as "red beans and rice" is often accompanied by a side of smoked sausage or a fried pork chop.
In many areas, rice and beans are often served side by side rather than mixed. Either way, they may be considered a meal, frequently with a topping of meat or chicken. Meat or other ingredients are sometimes placed atop rice and beans or (less often) mixed into it.
While beans are native to the Americas, rice is not. Rice was introduced to the Caribbean and South America by European colonizers at an early date with Spanish colonizers introducing Asian rice to Mexico in the 1520s at Veracruz and the Portuguese and their African slaves introducing it at about the same time to Colonial Brazil. More recent scholarship suggests that African slaves played a more active role in the establishment of rice in the New World and that African rice was an important crop from an early period. In either case, varieties of rice and bean dishes were a staple dish among the peoples of West Africa, and they remained a staple among their descendants subjected to slavery in the Spanish New World colonies and elsewhere in the Americas.
The dish is very nutritious. Rice is rich in starch, an excellent source of energy. Rice also has iron, vitamin B and protein. Beans also contain a good amount of iron and an even greater amount of protein than rice. Together, they make up a complete protein.
In addition, rice and beans are common and affordable ingredients, often available even when times are hard.
In Brazil, rice and beans are commonly eaten as everyday lunch, along with a different variety of meats and vegetables. It is also common to prepare dinner using the lunch leftovers. Brazil is the world leader in dry beans production and Latin American leader in rice consumption.
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