It’s All Just Rice and Beans

You look at a cover on two different books. The works were written by different authors for different publishers, and maybe they’re not even in the same genre. But there, perhaps resized or tweaked a bit, are the same models. Or you watch two book trailers and hear the same soundtrack to each. What about romance stories in general? Person A meets Person B (or B and C), overcomes some obstacle, and falls in love. The whole genre is more or less based on that formula.

So what keeps things from getting stale when the same elements are used again and again? Why would anyone read more than one romance or mystery or other genre? The answer is in the mix, and it’s just like rice and beans.

Think about it. Rice is a pretty staple ingredient, and so are beans. By themselves, neither is particularly interesting. And yet there are so many different ways to combine them to produce dishes with vastly different flavors and levels of spiciness.

For instance, you have Moros y Cristianos, or black beans and rice, if you want something Cuban and muy sabroso. Onions, garlic, pepper, etc. give the dish its zip. Then there’s the red beans and rice that’s famous in New Orleans. I used to live in New Orleans, and I will never settle for that crappy stuff they sell in a box. Real New Orleans red beans and rice, a traditional Monday dish, is spicy ambrosia with the andouille sausage bringing the whole meal together. Egyptian kushari offers a totally different taste with its lentils and rice.

It doesn’t matter whether the individual ingredients have been used before. What matters is the end product you get when you use those ingredients and put your own spin on them. A lot of people say that all the great stories have already been told. That’s probably true, but they haven’t necessarily been told my way. Personally, I look forward to trying a new bean and rice dish.

2 responses to “It’s All Just Rice and Beans

  1. The same can definitely be said for music. It’s how the elements are put together, and the particular voice you bring to the song (or story) that gives the piece life. I love this post, and it’s a beautiful reminder.

    • That’s absolutely right. If there weren’t common elements, we would never be able to group music into classical, rock, rap, etc., but that doesn’t mean everything sounds identical within a genre.

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