AKA Sesame Seeds
The wind was picking up, and the clouds were rolling in as the cold air drifted downward. Annie noticed the drop in temperature and wrapped her jacket tighter as she hurried home. It had gotten five degrees colder since she left the farmer’s market. She passed the neighborhood’s famous old oak tree. Glancing up, she saw the family of three owls snuggled against the trunk and each other, their feathers blowing wildly in the wind. They were supposed to be asleep but were agitated because of the impending rainstorm that was about to hit. She picked up her pace, feeling a sense of urgency as the rain started to fall.
LJ heard the front door slam. “looks like you made it just in time,” he said as he walked into the foyer to help her with her backpack. “Find what you were looking for?”
Annie gave him a quick, cold kiss. “Your lips are so warm,” she laughed. “Yes, I got the chamomile, and the yerba mate leaves, so mission accomplished. Would you like a cup of tea?”
“That sounds good. I can sip as I make Benne Cookies.”
“Do they have something to do with that fragrant smell coming from the kitchen?”
“Yes,” he said, walking down the hall. “It’s warm in the kitchen, and I’ll show you.”
Annie followed him up to the stove, where he took the lid off a small frying pan. Inside were tiny toasted seeds. “They smell nutty. What are they?”
“These are Benne seeds. Benne is the ancestral name for sesame. The plant was first domesticated in India. Travelers brought it to China, Japan, and Africa. By way of the Caribbean, benne seeds were brought to the Low Country of South Carolina by enslaved Africans, significantly influencing the region’s cuisine. These tiny seeds are used in many recipes and dishes, adding flavor and texture to various foods. But beyond their culinary uses, benne seeds also offer many health benefits, from being high in fiber and protein to being rich in antioxidants and minerals.
The most common way to eat benne seeds is by toasting them to be used in soups, stews, and sweet treats. Commercially, they are crushed for their oil used for sauteing, stir-frying, and salad dressing.”