In 2008, Devin DeWulf had an idea: he wanted to celebrate red beans and rice and its cultural impact on New Orleans. He invited some friends over and convinced them that having a red bean parade would be just the way to do it. They all agreed and the Krewe of Red Beans was born.
DeWulf and his friends would get together, over bowls of red beans and rice, and like Mardi Gras Indians carefully sewing a suit, they would carefully ‘bean‘ stuff. They would hot glue beans to anything – coats, hats, shoes, cars! In the following years, the parade has become bigger and better. They now celebrate the red beans on the biggest Mardi Gras Monday of the year, Lundi Gras. Camellia Beans supplies all the red beans they need, the Treme Brass Band leads the second line, and the Backstreet Cultural Museum offers them a prime spot to end each parade that turns into a huge block party.
DeWulf and the Krewe work from November up until the parade, to create all new red bean themed outfits and props for that year’s parade. But his creative side doesn’t stop at hot gluing red beans to a 1974 Volkswagen, he’s also an accomplished, self-taught folk artist. His work is inspired by what he sees around New Orleans. Some of the paintings show scenes around the city or different people that he has come across. With some of his painted art, DeWulf hand sews beans and sequins onto the canvas for an interesting way to add texture and depth to the painting making it truly unique.
His photographs are equally amazing. Most of the photos are of the items that have been ‘red beaned’ for the parades. They would look excellent framed and mounted on the wall for you to share in the celebration of red beans and rice in New Orleans.
Just as DeWulf was impacted by the culinary importance that red beans and rice has on the culture of New Orleans, he is now putting a mark of his own on New Orleans’ culture with his creativity, love of the city, reminding everyone of what a special place New Orleans is and for sharing his love of red beans and rice to everyone.
Where’s your favorite place to order red beans and rice?
At home, I like to cook em’ the way I like to eat em. (see recipe below)
Do you put any unique ingredients in your pot of red beans?
I only use dried Camellia beans – and I take special care to always add diced celery and good smoked ham hocks and smoked andouille sausage. My favorite place is Jacob’s in La Place, La. (They probably ship – if any readers want the best andouille in the world!)
What do you eat with red beans and rice?
Just Crystal hot-sauce, a beer, and maybe some crackers.
Do you only eat red beans and rice on traditional Mondays?
I like the tradition of Mondays – and certainly will never pass up any beans on Monday, but when I cook them – I tend to make a giant pot of the beans and will enjoy them throughout the week. It’s a dish that seems to be better suited to larger quantities.
What are you currently working on?
My current project is creating a city-wide New Orleans red bean cook-off challenge . . . . 64 restaurants in the city that will battle to decide who actually has the best red beans in New Orleans.
For more information on the Red Beans Parade and where the route is, please visit their website at www.RedBeansParade.com. For the latest news and photos of the beaning process, make sure you follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
To see –and to order– Devin’s paintings and photographs, you can stop by his page at WhereYart! Here is the link: http://whereyart.net/artist/devin-dewulf/397.
Devin DeWulf's Red Beans and Rice
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic sliced, mashed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 tablespoon cayenne
- 1/2 pound smoked ham with bones
- 2 slices bacon
- 1 pound smoked sausage sliced
- 2 pounds dry red beans sorted, rinsed
Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Add water to 3 inches above the beans.
Bring to boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 3 hours, until the beans are soft. Add more water if needed. Always have the beans slightly submerged.
For more photos and recipes from Devin DeWulf, please visit http://www.mardigras.com/news/2011/03/redbeans_parade_steps_off_offi.html.
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