Richard Fox

Wenner Gren Foundation

New York, New York

In the interests of preserving Sid's health, I omit any of my recipes, but I would like to provide a tribute to him.

At 80 years of age Sid is obviously not the same person he was when he went to Puerto Rico in 1948. Meaning: after all these years, hes finally got his act together. We know him now as a splendid scholar, a consummate lecturer, a no-slouch bon vivant, and the eponym of a lecture series. But was he always thus? Let us consider the young Sidney Mintz, as reflected in the eyes of Don Taso. Taso was Sid's chief informant and cicerone in the sugar-plantation community that Sid occupied as part of Julian Stewards Puerto Rico project. When I met Don Taso in 1995, he was bed-ridden and doing poorly, but he was not too weak to expound generously, affectionately, and mirthfully on Sid's failings in the field. Evidently, Sid didn't know how to do anything when he arrived—cutting cane, tying ropes, making conversation—you name it, Sid couldn't do it, or so Taso said. It was clear that Sid in the end became Taso's star pupil, as he taught him the ropes, literally and figuratively. Don Taso took much pride in teaching Sid how to stay out of trouble, but he appeared to be even prouder of teaching Sid how to get into it. In that connection, Don Taso did praise Sid's technique with a glass of rum; I suspect he taught him that, too. Now, over a half century later, you perhaps can see Don Taso's teachings in Sid's way with a glass of wine—and more certainly, in Sid's devotion to the craft of ethnography and his admiration for indigenous scholars like Don Taso, who helped teach him that craft.