BY DAVID MCQUEEN
A huge part of the Caribbean culinary experience is in the way we season our food. I am sure it exists in some other cultures too but many of our favourite dishes emerged because of those magicians in the kitchen who know how to have just the right amount of seasoning. And when I say seasoning, I am not talking a little sprinkle of salt and black pepper. We call that garnish. LOL
Curry goat, various fried fish, roti and its various offspring, oil down, jerk chicken, and even the various vegan and iTal offerings also often have their sprinklings of that extra seasoning to bring the food to life. Make a belly full. Not too much though cos “you don’t want to get the itis”. If you know, you know!
This culinary excellence was borne out of the fact that historically many of our ancestors did not have access to good quality food to eat. They were provided with offal, feet, ears and the choice cuts were not something many never had. Same with veggies. Food that remains a staple for many, although some of us *cough* have become to boujee for that. But our history is such that we would always innovate. Our motto is, if life gives you sugar cane…..then make rum punch!
I for one often wondered how my Mum and Dad could have small provisions and yet still throw down. Every time. The things they could do with corned beef, onions, some fried dumpling/bakes/journey cakes and always cooking this way like they expected guests. A lot of my parents generation will still not go out for meals. Simply because they don’t trust the aversion some establishments have to well seasoned food.
The seasoning is a metaphor for the way many of us approach life. We aren’t going to just exist on a plate. We are gonna bring it to life. Make it tasty. We don’t just dance, we whine. We don’t just sing, we riff. We don’t just hustle we build. We don’t just dress, we dress up. It is a certain pride instilled in us that we must turn up good like cooked food.
Another insight into our culture in this Black History season (See what I did there?)