To most of us fortunate enough to hail from that region, “The Caribbean” is the warm wave of islands anchored by the Bahamas in the North, Guyana in the East, and Curacao in the South. They are the lands washed by the Caribbean Sea which share similarities in history and culture. Hence the inclusion of Guyana, located on the South American continent but identifying with the definition of Caribbean.
Yet the beautiful and pristine coral island of Barbados differs utterly from commercial Trinidad with its wild and wonderful rain forests, as variegated as its population. Each island nation has a different accent, which is why we laugh when people say “Caribbean accent.” One may as well say “European accent” but Spain’s accent differs from the French, as from the Germans.
What you’ll find in common, however, is the sheer joy the people often express, their friendliness to each other and visitors, and the relaxed view of life and the world. And it’s a well-known fact that “we like our bellies.” The kitchen is the heart of the Caribbean home, and food and family are what nurtures or bodies and spirits. We ate fresh, what was in season, and filled up with vegetables and fruit. Mangos, “sour” cherries and plums, watermelon, papaya, guinep (chenette) pommecythere, sapodillas and pommeracs were our dessert.
Lime trees and pepper shrubs were found in many a backyard, along with chive, Spanish thyme, and “bandania” or culantro. Produce is still bought from “markets” of multiple vendors, and fish from the fishermen at the beachside where they land their boats. The goats, sheep, chickens and ducks which graze around the houses are sure to end up in a pot for a Sunday or a festive “cook” occasion.
Someone who prepares delicious food is said to have a “sweet hand” which of course, applies to all our mothers and it’s a great compliment to pay to the cook. Try it when you choose a Caribbean restaurant during Eat Caribbean week! It might get you a “jub-jub” or “toolum” to take away for a snack!
The Eat Caribbean Committee & WIADCA