Life and Food in the Caribbean

Life and Food in the Caribbean

Language: English

Pages: 190

ISBN: 1561310646

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The West Indian kitchen today, five hundred years after Columbus, is a wonderful blend of flavors and cooking styles. The islands are blessed with some of the richest soils in the world, and the different peoples who have settled there have developed a vibrant hybrid cuisine. Scottish rebels, enslaved Africans, indentured Portuguese and Chinese, and finally the East Indians–all of these brought with them their traditional foods and cooking techniques.
This book takes as its framework the stratified history of the islands from the early times of European exploration to the present day. The author draws extensively on original sources, such as diaries, which describe voyages from the China Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Atlantic, and the implantation of new lives in the islands. She has collected recipes from the differing cuisines of all the peoples who live on the islands, and she portrays the way of life that has developed through the generations. She writes: "The Caribbean is an esthetic as full of emotion as a work of art. The air you breathe, the light that fills you, the myriad voices of nature and the past, the soil that provides for you-all these, wrapped together, are expressed in the kitchen."
















done. If visitors had not written so much about the opulent standard of living, you might initially doubt whether it could really have taken place so far from home. Richard Ligon, one of the first travellers to report back to us in detail, wrote of the ‘victuals from different parts’. There was beef, brought from Holland, Old and New England, Virginia, and Russia – which ‘yet comes to us sweet’ – plus every kind of saltfish from ling and haberdine to cod and poor John. No estate was more than

brought from Africa. It seemed to be a simple version because she saw that the only vegetable used was the eddoe. She wrote, ‘It abounds upon every estate. The root is not unlike a rough irregular potatoe:- the leaves make excellent wholesome greens, and the negro, with the addition of a bit of salt fish, or salt pork, has an excellent pot of soup . . .’ Peppers still seemed to be the ascendant taste, for she continued, ‘Capsicums – his seasoning for all dishes – they are never wanting . . .

Naipaul wrote of the Indian in the Caribbean as ‘governed and protected by rituals which were like a privacy . . . in the Trinidad countryside they created a simple rural India.’ This directed cooking and eating as much as any other area of life. Food in its natural state was accepted as ‘clean’. To peel and slice and cook was opening the product to contamination. Earthenware dishes could only be used once, so that food was eaten off banana and almond leaves. Animals that died from natural causes

30–60 g (1–2 oz) of white sugar, 600 ml (1 pint) of fresh coconut milk, 1 large finely chopped onion, 1 whole head of garlic cut in half horizontally, 2 tablespoons of curry powder, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 teaspoon grated ginger, 1 hot pepper, ⅔ of the juice of a fresh lime and 1 teaspoon of salt. Heat the coconut oil and sugar until it is bubbling brown, then throw in the pork pieces and bones and fry until golden brown. Add all the onion, garlic, black pepper and curry powder, lower

their existence, although recently serious archaeological work is being done in the islands to learn more about the Amerindian. William Keegan, an anthropologist of the Florida Museum of Natural History, wrote: ‘Interpretations of West Indian pre-history exhibit a strong reliance on contact-period reports.’ These were the records and writings of Columbus, Las Casas and Oviedo amongst others, who were there at the opening up of the New World. ‘They were often’, he continued, ‘used in the absence

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