Benne wafers, ethereally light, snapping-crisp sesame cookies, are native to the "low country" of South Carolina. Sesame, a plant with a long history of cultivation, was probably first grown in Africa; West Africans, brought to this country as slaves in the 17th and 18th centuries, called sesame "benne" and legend had it that eating sesame seeds brought good luck. Interestingly, Middle Easterners also called sesame seeds "benne;" there must have been trade routes that brought together buyers from the Middle East with African sellers. Food, as usual, seems to have been a key component in bringing cultures together.
These rich brown cookies, sweet and nutty, have a unique texture: solid and crisp on the bottom, crunchy-light on top.