The Wonders of Caribbean Food

| April 16, 2013
Clive Caines CaribDirect

Clive Caines Cultural Contributor

A couple of articles ago I suggested that more and more of us were over reliant on processed food as we hadn’t learned to cook for ourselves. I also suggested that some of us who were born outside of the Caribbean weren’t necessarily cooking, eating and passing on the food traditions that reminded us of where we’ve come from.

With these thoughts in mind I’ve decided to take a look at the food we eat and will begin what hopefully be an interesting series by looking at the 10 most useful Caribbean cooking videos to be found; my judgements will be based on a few simple factors:

How easy it is to follow the recipes.

How easy it is to find the ingredients.

How informative the video is.

Here’s the first five of the 10:

1. Martinique coconut chicken curry.

Levi Roots has really become the UK flag bearer for Caribbean cookery: as proof of this I can say that I’m lucky enough to have friends from a multitude of races and if there’s one common denominator between them it’s that a bottle of ‘Reggae Reggae’ sauce can be found in their kitchen.

Though I’m not convinced that this is a dish that has been served in Martinique from time it’s clearly a fusion of the French and Caribbean cooking that we would expect from that Island. Levi is certainly skilled at presentation so it is no surprise that his video provides an easy to follow recipe as well as lots of good information about where to get ingredients and how to prepare them.

 

2. Salt fish and cassava dumplings.

The presenter, Shirley Quamina, doesn’t have the slick presentation style of Levi Roots but is no less easy to follow her explanation; to be honest I’ve included this video more for the food than the presentation. Rice and peas aside if there’s one dish that says Caribbean food to me then it has to be salt fish, especially when you throw in some ackee.

I can’t think that there’s any ingredient featured in this video that would be difficult to get hold of but if you’ve never cooked a cassava before I would only buy it from some one knowledgeable as the bitter version of this root vegetable is toxic if not properly treated.

This video could give more hints and tips on the preparation process, which is seen just before the cooking process rather than from start to finish.

 

3. Jamaican oxtail with rice.

Oxtail is something that I remember my mother cooking when I was a child, which is no doubt true of many children who have or had parents that grew up in the Caribbean, so I feel compelled to include this among my video selections.

The curious thing about oxtail is that I’ve not eaten it or even considered cooking it since I left home, which is probably down to the fact that I don’t buy my meat from my local butchers. If you are going to follow this recipe then as long as you can trust your butcher you shouldn’t have any trouble getting the ingredients. The video’s presentation style is professional rather than slick but the preparation steps are easy to follow and the end results make it worth the effort.

 

4. Curry Goat

This particular video bills its version of curry goat as Jamaican Curry Goat but I don’t believe that any one Island can hold sway over another when it comes to curry goat. The ingredients used in this video are nothing different to what my mother would use, which means that there’s nothing that would be difficult to source.

While the sound quality isn’t the best, there are times when the sound of cooking drowns out what is being said, there’s enough consideration given to presentation that graphics are included along with cooks explanation. The cooking process is easy to follow but it does start with the goat meat already cut up, I’d advise you to buy it that way unless you’ve got an excellent butchery set up at home.

 

5. Red Snapper

I have my grandmother to thank for introducing me to red snapper when I first visited the Caribbean as a teenager; up to that point I’d come to believe that all fish, salted cod apart, tasted the same.

What I like about the cook process in this video is that it is uncomplicated so doesn’t end up masking or destroying the true taste of the fish. The presentation style is great: there is plenty of information about the ingredients and what to look for in a good quality snapper.

Sourcing most of the ingredients shouldn’t be a problem but I haven’t come across Adobo so depending on where you live this might not be easy to find, though if you have a supermarket chain willing to listen to its shoppers then it should be worth petitioning them.

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Category: Culture & Society, How Caribbean R U?

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We provide news and information for anyone interested in the Caribbean whether you’re UK based, European based or located in the Caribbean. New fresh ideas are always welcome with opportunities for bright writers.

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