There is a cocktail wafer that seems a vital part of the culture of Charleston, South Carolina, and that is called the benne wafer. Benne is the local word for sesame seeds, and few people seem to know that its use in the South, particularly South Carolina, dates from the days of slavery. The seeds were brought into the country from Africa aboard the slave ships, perhaps in the pockets of the hapless passengers. The word derives from the word bĕne from the language of the people of the upper Niger River Valley in Western Africa.
© 1987 Craig Claiborne estate. All rights reserved.