Joe Heyman

University of Texas at El Paso
El Paso, Texas

Reminiscence: I have a lot of memories of Sid of course, and this one is probably pretty common to his students, at least the ones who took him as an undergraduate. Anyway, I recall very vividly (but who knows if it is accurately!) a moment from his introductory course, Human Being and Becoming. It was in a steeply sloped lecture room with a black topped lab table in front. Sid, who is wiry and agile, clambered on top of the table, demonstrating how Netsilik (I think) Eskimo harpoon seals at blow holes in the ice. He had beautifully drawn the Netsilik hunting items on the board. The point was to illustrate the beauty and functional sophistication of "primitive" material culture/technology. I was utterly fascinated, almost dumb-struck by the complexity of something so apparently simple. This was early in the course, and I was in the process of falling in love with anthropology (it is an old marriage now, but I still love it!). This is one of the iconic moments from that course that remain with me—watching Trobrian Cricket, reading Eric Wolf's "Types of Latin American Peasantry," discussing anthropology and the Vietnam war—which continue to inspire me as a teacher and scholar.

I've included a recipe from my wife. Both of us like to cook but I think this recipe is distinctive and interesting, so I got it from her. It is from her family's home (origin) town in Italy, Borgo Val di Taro, which is in the Appenines above Parma in Emilia-Romagna.

BOMBA—A Rice Cake


1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 stalk of celery
olive or canola oil
canned tomatoes, tomato paste, water
red wine
1 lb. of meat, cut into small chunks
4 eggs
butter or margarine
grated parmesan cheese—other cheeses optional
bread crumbs

There are 4 main steps to making a bomba: 1) prepare tomato sauce; 2) cook (boil) rice; 3) mix the ingredients; 4) bake the bomba in the oven.

  1. Prepare your tomato sauce.
    Chop an onion finely and saute it in canola or olive oil. You could also include some celery and carrot finely chopped and sauteed.
    Add your tomatoes and tomato paste as usual.
    Add your usual spices, some black pepper and a half cup of red wine.
    Add the meat of your choice, cut into small chunks. Traditionally bomba was made with squab, but where can you get good squab these days? You could use chicken, beef, veal or pork. Simmer slowly until the meat is tender and falling apart.
    The sauce with meat can be prepared a day in advance.
  2. Cook 4 cups of regular white rice. It can be slightly "al dente".
    Allow the rice to cool.
  3. In a large pot or mixing bowl, add 4 eggs, some butter or margarine, a good amount of grated parmesan cheese and other grated cheese if desired (romano, mozzarella, etc.). The sauce should be warmed. Reserve the cooked meat, vegetables and some sauce.
    Mix sauce into the rice and cheese mixture until it is lightly colored, but not very wet.
    Butter a high sided sauce pot or casserole dish that can be placed in the oven. Coat the buttered sides and bottom with bread crumbs.
    Start to fill the pot with the rice mixture, covering the bottom, and working up the sides but leave empty space in the middle. Reserve some rice. The meat, vegetables and reserved sauce are placed in the middle of the rice. The remaining rice covers the rest of the sides and top of the pot. Level the top off. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and dabs of butter.
  4. Preheat oven to 350. Bake for one hour, until firm.
    Remove bomba from oven and allow to cool.

To serve, place a platter upside down on top of the pot. Invert the pot with the platter underneath it. The Bomba should slip out of the pot onto the platter.

At the table, if desired, the now top of the bomba could be lightly doused with alcohol and lit à la cherries jubilee. (It's especially effective if the lights are dimmed in advance.)

Cut the bomba as you would a layer cake, using a large bread knife or other serrated blade.