Tracing Our Roots: BB & PF
By: Moon Muhammad
On the outskirts of Florida Blvd, nestled behind a timeless American Pawn Shop, is the home of African based restaurant BB & PF – Bean Burgers and Plantain Fries. I was introduced to this restaurant by a local friend of mine whose descriptions of savory seasoning, diverse menu selections, and overall ambiance enticed me to pull up to the small eatery the very next day.
Though, I will admit, unless you know exactly where to go or native to Baton Rouge, the chances of becoming lost are embarrassingly high. I dialed the listed telephone number and Ms. Caroline Collins answered walking me through the directions. After countless U-turns and an unwarranted amount of frustration, I bluntly said that I would try another time. Ms. Caroline, like most of the Black women in my life, did not heed to the defiance, but ushered me forward, persistent that I was close … n’ of course she was right.
Ms. Caroline, chef and owner of BB & PF, greeted me in the same fashion as my grandmother – a warm “good morning,” a soft hug and small talk while she prepped my food all the while making snarky commentary on whatever judge television show that was currently playing. However, unlike my grandmother, I have not known her my entire life. It is in the way Ms. Caroline engulfs you as a member of her family that truly sets BB & PF apart. Whether it be saving your number in the restaurants phone in order to greet you by name if you should call back or asking to eat with you when your food is ready, the message is clear: this is a family restaurant.
When asked why she decided to open this restaurant in Baton Rouge, Ms. Caroline had this to say:
I [had] lived in Baton Rouge for sixteen years before I decided to open the restaurant and my main reason is there was no place like this in the Baton Rouge area … all the way up to a 100-mile radius. So, I thought I should let people know … about food … mostly West African … I just wanted to let people know about it … about our foods … [our] culture.
With menu items such as black – eyed pea burgers, Nigerian jollof rice, fufu and banga soup, Ms. Caroline is definitely bringing the motherland to the capital city. With the influx of newly emerging vegans in every corner of our country, it is always with a sigh of relief when restaurants offer more than just a salad. To date, I have tried the black-eyed peas with crispy dodo (plantains) and the black-eyed pea burger. Both were extremely satisfying and for a mere 8.00 dollars for the peas and plantains and 3.00 dollars for the burger, BB & PF is in everyone’s budget. Don’t worry though, if you are carnivorous, there are plenty of meat options for you to choose from, including: jollof rice with fish, chicken, beef or goat, Onugbu, stock soup or peanut soup. Be reassured that here, in this restaurant, everyone is sure to find something they love.
Ms. Caroline has added to the prolific food culture of Baton Rouge. By embedding traditional African dishes in this southern city, she has opened our minds by seeking to refine our palates for the inclusion of home. The twisting roads often stumbled upon when expanding Black cultural connections can be intimidating, I will admit. However, the invitation is open. The atmosphere is set. Our only task is to show up.
So, BB & PF is up to us. We have a treasure that we must help mold and more importantly, we have a crucial diasporic connection that we must nurture in order to truly understand a place that we may not yet have been but will always be ours. It is up to us to see the value in sharing meals in a small dimly lit restaurant with a woman who laughs at daytime television and asks you about your name.
BB & PF is located at 10248 Florida Blvd behind the blue American Pawn Shop
Hours: Mon – Sat 11 – 8 P.M Sun 1 – 8 P.M.
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