Edible Black History

Edible Black History

Rice (Oryza sativa)

Calas (pronounced ca-LA) are fritters made from cooked rice and flour. They were sold in the streets of New Orleans by vendors, women of color, often slaves (who had Sundays free), and remained part of old-time home cooking for many Gulf Coast families of African descent.  The recipe may have been modified in the New World, but the term and concept are said to have been brought to Louisiana by slaves from Ghana.

Today there are sweet and savory calas recipes. Poppy Tooker ignited new interest in the old dish. Here’s why:

Visual learners can watch Ms. Tooker demonstrate the recipe in this video, but there is also some tasty reading:

“Calas: The rice fritter that freed the slaves,” Francis Lam, Salon.

“Poppy Tooker’s Hot Rice Calas,” Jody Eddy, Eddybles.


“Rice croquettes” were eaten in coastal South Carolina, an area where the crop was first grown by African slaves, and the street cries of New Orleans calas vendors are quite similar to those of chick-pea fritter sellers in Nice, according to The Carolina Rice Kitchen: The African Connection by Robert M. Weir, Karen Hess.  Frituras de arroz  seem well-established in the Caribbean and Latin America. The kitchen has always been a multi-cultural world.


Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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