MYF - LaToya G

>> Wednesday, 9 April 2014


It is time again to welcome another person to the MY FOOD table.

MY FOOD is an online research project and ongoing research into Caribbean food culture and food heritage. The project seeks to explore how we think about food, how we use it to connect and communicate, and the importance of food to our identity. For full details of the project and how to participate, click here.

Heading north, we arrive in The Bahamas and find lovely LaToya G.

LaToya G photo LaToyaGreene_zps346e7d62.jpgMYF Living at home photo 200pxathome_zpscaa18bb4.jpg

MF: LaToya, a warm welcome to MY FOOD! How would you describe the food of The Bahamas?
LG: Bahamian food is very starchy. Delicious, but starchy. For example, in a single meal you can have Peas 'n Rice, Potato Salad and baked Macaroni Cheese.
MF: Ah yes, if it is one thing the Caribbean is known for is diet rich in Carbs. What is your favourite dish?
LG: Baked Macaroni and Cheese. I especially like this dish because it was the first native dish that I learned to cook and I have been making it on my own since I was 15 years old. I'm 25 years old now and I would like to think that I am a pro at it. LOL.
MF: I am quite sure that you are, especially with 10 years experience of making it. Tell me something, do you have a particular eating style, like weekend food and weekday food?
LG: During the week I eat mostly healthy lunches - salads, sandwiches or chips; sometimes I would eat a full meal. On the weekends, I may have fast-food.
MF: What is a typical weekend dish that you look forward to?
LG: Cracked conch and fries.
MF: I know you said that Bahamian food is very starchy, on any given Sunday, what's on the menu?
LG: Barbecued chicken, Peas 'n Rice, my favourite - Macaroni and Cheese and Coleslaw.
MF: One of the things that is very similar throughout the Caribbean, and that we all have some version of is rice cooked with peas. Here in Barbados where I live, Rice and Peas is made with pigeon peas, is it the same in The Bahamas?
LG: Yes, the peas in our Peas 'n Rice is pigeon peas but we use the fresh, green version.
MF: If you had to choose a dish or beverage that marks or identifies you as Bahamian, what would it be?
LG: Guava Duff - because the guavas are locally grown and when in season, they are plentiful. Guava Duff is a dessert and it is something unique to The Bahamas and it is enjoyed by locals and visitors.
MF: When I think of duff, I think of a steamed dumpling. Is the Guava Duff similar? Can you describe it for us?
LG: There are 3 parts to Guava Duff - a sweet flour dough, stewed guava pulp and a thick, creamy sauce made with even more guava pulp. The stewed guavas are rolled in the dough (think swiss roll), wrapped tightly and steamed. It is cooled then cut into thick slices and served with a generous helping of the guava sauce ladled all over it.
MF: Oh my, that sounds like THE perfect dessert for those of us who love guavas. I am definitely going to try making it when guavas are in season. Speaking of seasons, food is at the centre of most holidays and festivals, which is your favourite holiday/festival food?
LG: The fruit cake that is made at Christmas time.
MF: Where do you generally shop for your food (vegetables, fruits, dry goods, meat, etc)?
LG: At the supermarket
MF: Can you cook?
LG: Yes
MF: Do you cook? And if you do, how often?
LG: I cook twice a week.
MF: What is the one dish that you can whip up in no time and can make off the top of your head without a recipe?
LG: Bahamian-style baked Macaroni and cheese.
MF: How do Bahamians make their Macaroni and cheese?
LG: I use the word baked so as not to confuse it with the macaroni and cheese that comes out of a box (laugh). The cheese we use is cheddar and the pasta shape is elbows. In The Bahamas we make our macaroni and cheese with herbs, diced green peppers, onions and crushed red pepper (if you like it spicy).
MF: Do you eat street-food?
LG: No
MF: Why not?
LG: No particular reason, I just don't.
MF: If you're having overseas guests who are not from the Caribbean and you needed to make a couple of dishes that say this is Bahamian food, what would you make?
LG: For breakfast, I would make Chicken Souse and Johnny Bread. For lunch/dinner, it would be Conch fritters as an appetiser and cracked Conch with Peas 'n Rice, Macaroni and Coleslaw. Conch is a national dish so that would have to be there. For dessert, I would make Guava Duff. Everyone loves it!
MF: You said that Conch is the national dish. Can you explain how the Conch is prepared as your national dish?
LG: Conch is prepared in a number of different ways; it can be fried, steamed or eaten raw. When floured and fried, it can be served with fries and a roll as a Conch snack. Or, it can be served with Peas 'n Rice, macaroni and coleslaw as a dinner. When steamed, it can be eaten with Peas 'n Grits or Peas 'n Rice. It can be eaten raw in Conch salad where it is diced and mixed together with chopped onions, green peppers and tomatoes. Fresh juice from limes and oranges is poured over the mixture to top it off.
MF: Do you cook dishes from other cuisines or dishes from other parts of the Caribbean?
LG: No I don't, but it is something I would like to get in to the habit of doing.
MF: If you were migrating forever what do you think that you would miss the most about the food of The Bahamas?
LG: I would miss the way the food is seasoned and its flavour.
MF: If you had to take a food journey any where in the world, where would you want to go? Why?
LG: I would go to Belize because the country is a melting pot of cultures which has greatly influenced the country's cuisine.
MF: Thanks for sharing your food with MY FOOD LaToya!

New logo2 photo Newprojectlogo_zps58f13eb1.jpg

Would you like to share your food with MY FOOD? Know someone that does? Leave a comment below or inbox me directly. The project is opened to anyone that falls into any of the categories below, and you do NOT need to have a blog to participate.

CATEGORIES

  • Caribbean/West Indian living at home
  • Caribbean/West Indian living abroad (1st, 2nd, 3rd generation. State which generation you are)
  • Non-Caribbean/West Indian married to/partnered with Caribbean/West Indian folk
  • Non-Caribbean/West Indian but the region has been home for at least 5 years
Join the conversation on Facebook, and don't forget that you too can participate, get the details here. The next instalment of MY FOOD is on Wednesday, April 23.

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MYF - Kizzy Rennie

>> Wednesday, 26 March 2014

A warm welcome! It's MY FOOD time.

This is another interview in the MY FOOD online project. MY FOOD is part of my ongoing research into Caribbean food culture and food heritage. The project seeks to explore how we think about food, how we use it to connect and communicate, and the importance of food to our identity. For full details of the project and how you can participate, click here.

This week, all the way from China where she is studying food science is Grenadian, Kizzy Rennie. Kizzy, welcome!

Kizzy Renny photo IMG_1786_zps3fe8ed8c.jpgMYF Living Abroad200 photo 200pxlogoabroad_zpsf5a9e45d.jpg

MF: How would you describe Grenadian food?
KR: Sweet, starchy and spicy!
MF: What's your favourite dish?
KR: Crayfish in Tomato Sauce. It's all in the preparation and goes down in the files as a secret family recipe.
MF: I know that you're currently abroad studying but back in Grenada did you have a particular eating style, like weekday/weekend food?
KR: Sunday is Buffet Sunday, this is where a variety of dishes are made and Mondays are Leftover Mondays. Tuesdays and Thursdays fast food or find-your-own food and Soup Saturdays.
MF: What is a typical weekend dish you look forward to?
KR: Fried Bakes and Jacks

Fried Jacks photo friedjacks_zps7f5481da.jpg

MF: On any given Sunday, what's on the menu?
KR: Rice 'n Peas, Baked Chicken, Macaroni Pie along with any of the following side dishes: Callaloo, steamed vegetables, potato salad or garden salad.
MF: If you had to choose a food or beverage that marks or identifies you as a Grenadian, what would it be?
KR: Cocoa tea. After my aunty rolls cocoa balls, my dad slow-boils it over the fire with milk and local spices - nutmeg, cinnamon and bay leaves - for breakfast. It's a real earth-to-table experience that I have not been able to replicate in any other country.
MF: Food is at the center of most holidays and festivals. Which is your favourite holiday/festival food?
KR: Oil Down is our national dish and Independence food. We cook it anywhere and eat it anytime. It comprises of breadfruit, ground provisions, salted meat, callaloo and seasonal vegetables all cooked in curry and coconut milk.
MF: In Grenada, where do you shop for food?
KR: Most of the vegetables and fruits on my plate come from our kitchen garden and every now and then, even the meat; but for the most part, the supermarket, or abattoir supplies the rest (of meat).
MF: Where do you shop for food in China?
KR: In China I prefer supermarkets for safety reasons and more international variety.
MF: Can you cook? Seems like a silly question given that you are studying food science.
KR: Not at all. Yes, I can cook but I am much better at baking and preserving things like yoghurt and jelly.
MF: Do you get the time to cook? How often?
KR: I cook at least 3 times a week but on busy days I eat out.
MF: What is the one dish that you can whip up in no time and can make  off the top of your head, without a recipe?
KR: Rice 'n Peas with Stewed Chicken
MF: Do you eat street food? If you do, what is your favourite street food?
KR: Snow Cone drenched with condensed milk. As a kid I would anxiously wait for the Snow Cone man to blow his bike horn so I could order my Snow Cone and watch the colours as they mixed together. As an adult, I appreciate its changes in texture and taste from start to finish. Snow Cones have never lost their appeal to me.
MF: Do you cook dishes from other cuisines or from other parts of the Caribbean? I know it is obvious that you cook some Chinese food based on your location.
KR: Yes, I do cook Chinese food and in terms of Caribbean dishes, I make Roti and Cou-cou.
MF: What do you miss most about the food from Grenada?
KR: The spices! In Grenada we use spices in our drinks, desserts, sides dishes and meats. For example, aniseed in Mauby drink, fresh ginger and cinnamon in Cherry juice, cloves in Callaloo and curried meat. I have tried using Chinese-grown spices in my cooking but the taste is never complete.
MF: If you could take a food journey any where in the world, where would you want to go? Why?
KR: Italy and France, because of my weakness for floured-foods such as breads, cakes and pastries.
MF: Given that you are living abroad, what dishes would you make and share that says, this is Grenadian food?
KR: Bakes and salt fish, souse, fish cakes and chicken pelau. I find these dishes time-saving and easy to cook, especially for a group. Most importantly, they are every day dishes in any Grenadian household. Oil Down is a winner but if I cook this, there won't be space to eat anything else.
MF: You are studying Food Science in China. How long have you been in China?
KR: This year I am celebrating my 4th year. Yes, celebrating. There is always a reason for festivities here.
MF: What is the study of Food Science?
KR: Food Science covers everything that goes into a kitchen without actually entering the kitchen. For example, food safety, food chemistry and food processing.
MF: How do you hope that your studies will impact or benefit your country (Grenada) and dare I say, the Caribbean as a whole?
KR: I am passionate about seeing Grenada's agriculture and food industry grow, where we produce more locally and take more pride in Caribbean products. My studies will enable me to work along with both the public and private sectors to ensure this happens. Grenada is just one piece to the entire puzzle.
MF: How was it transitioning from Caribbean food to Chinese food?
KR: At first it was rather challenging. The hardest part was that there never seemed to be enough meat on our plates. Eating with chopsticks was much easier compared to getting accustomed to smaller portions of meat and larger portions of vegetables. Also, very little dairy products are used, so, what I consider staples such as cheese and butter, are difficult to source.
MF: It has often been said that "real" Chinese food is one of the healthiest diets. What is your opinion?
KR: Once I finally embraced Chinese cuisine and culture, I found myself more energetic, having better immunity and losing weight. I've been drinking lots of hot water and tea, eating large portions of vegetables, eliminating dairy, eating on time and in time. The health factor is also embedded in the cooking techniques where nutrients are not lost as quickly and more phytochemicals are included in the diet.
MF: China is a vast country, which of its regional cuisines you are mostly exposed to?
KR: I spend most of my time in the South in one of the oven-cities. The heat and the humidity of the city is balanced by eating spicy food as it is believed that it "pushes" the extra water out of the skin and keeps it healthy. The national dish, Hot Pot, is flavoured with hot chilli pepper and prickly ash pepper (numbing) and is eaten at least 3 times a week. If you've never eaten it before, approach with caution.

Hot Pot photo hotpot_zps38c30db1.jpg

MF: What does your typical everyday meal consist of?
KR: Chinese generally eat as many as 5 dishes and rice for lunch or dinner. I would usually have: 2 stir-fry dishes, for example eggplant and beans, lotus root, lettuce or corn. 2 steamed dishes such as pumpkin or cabbage. A small bowl of rice, couscous or steamed cauliflower.
MF: Do you make any fused dishes such as Grenadian-Chinese?
KR: Yes, in the sense that I cook using Grenadian methods with Chinese ingredients. Because many of the vegetables are so different here (in China), I use what is around me. For instance, ground provisions in soups are replaced with white carrots, radishes, lotus root, taro etc. I also cook any of the Chinese leafy greens the same way we prepare callaloo.
MF: What's your favourite Chinese dish?
KR: Without having to think twice, I absolutely love steamed dumplings with a mushroom and chicken filling along with the traditional chilli and soy sauce for dipping.
MF: Do you every get opportunities to introduce people to the cuisines of Grenada? What is usually their reaction?
KR: Sure, especially at International Cultural events and Christmas. Asians usually find it a bit heavy. Other non-Caribbean nationals such as Africans or Pacific islanders find so many similarities in ingredients and cooking techniques and enjoy the rich flavour.
MF: Kizzy, thanks so much for sharing and continued success with your studies.

You can find Kizzy online at Watermelon and Cheese.

New logo photo 160pxnewlogo_zpsb841e265.jpg

Would you like to share your food with MY FOOD? Know someone that does? Leave a comment below or inbox me directly. The project is open to anyone that falls into any of the categories below, and you do NOT need to have a blog to participate.

CATEGORIES

  • Caribbean/West Indian living at home
  • Caribbean/West Indian living abroad (1st, 2nd, 3rd generation. State which generation you are)
  • Non-Caribbean/West Indian married to/partnered with Caribbean/West Indian folk
  • Non-Caribbean/West Indian but the region has been home for at least 5 years.


Join the conversation below or on Facebook, and don't forget that you too can participate, get the details here. The next instalment of MY FOOD is on Wednesday, April 9.

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Umami Pork

>> Thursday, 20 March 2014


I swear, I am not trying to be pretentious with the name of this post, it is just that I could not think of a name for the dish. The word umami seemed to fit based on the combination of ingredients in the marinade and the final taste. There are other names I considered, but, you know… some things should just remain in your head.

Browned Pork photo brownedpork4_zps270ac9c4.jpg

This pork dish is something I threw together a couple of weeks ago. I had gone to the market on a Friday after my class and the butcher brought out some fresh pork. There was a pre-cut 2-pound slab of pork flap/pork belly sitting there saying, "take me home with you." What? You didn't know meat could talk?! (laugh).

There are no exacting measurements for this dish, it is all based on individual taste. Add the marinade ingredients to a bowl, whisk together and taste adjusting to suit your taste. Don't worry if you have more marinade than you need. Save the excess in a bottle in the refrigerator for baked chicken or pork.

I cooked the meat in a pressure cooker so by the time I was finishing dilly-dallying around the house this was done. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can make this on the stovetop in a heavy-bottomed pan or pot with a tight lid.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds pork flap/pork belly or pork shoulder/butt
  • Regular soy sauce 
  • Oyster sauce 
  • Kecap Manis - Indonesian sweet soy sauce (the ABC brand I think is the best)
  • Chinkiang vinegar (Chinese black vinegar. Substitute with balsamic or malt vinegar or dry sherry)
  • Hot pepper sauce
  • Salt (taste the marinade before adding salt as it my not be necessary for additional salt)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 3/4 cup hot water


DIRECTIONS

  1. Cut the meat into 1 to 1 1/2" cubes.
  2. Mix together the rest of the ingredients to make a marinade. You want a little more than 1/2 cup of marinade.
  3. Pour the marinade over the pork and let it marinate for about 20 - 30 minutes at room temperature.
  4. Add the oil to your pressure pot and place on medium heat until very hot.
  5. Add the meat and juices to the pot and spread in an even layer. Let it brown for about 2 - 3 minutes, do not turn it before. At the end of the 2 - 3 minutes, give it a good turn/toss and cook for another 2 minutes.
  6. Pour in the hot water and using your spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any stuck bits. Cover the cooker and let it come up to pressure. When it comes up to pressure at the first whistle, reduce the heat to low and cook for 22 - 25 minutes.
  7. Remove the cooker from the heat and release the pressure. If there is any liquid other than the oil in the pot, return the pot to the heat and let cook until the liquid has dried out.
  8. Remove the meat from the pot, garnish with sliced green onions and serve with rice, mashed ground provision, buttered noodles or make sandwiches or wraps.


NOTES

  • Reserve the oil from the cooked meat to roast potatoes. So good!
  • If using a regular pot or pan, you will need 1+ 1/2 cups of hot water. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce to low and let cook for 40 - 45 minutes until meat is tender. Remove lid, raise heat to high and let cook until all the liquid has dried out.


Browned Pork2 photo brownedpork10_zps97ea0eae.jpg

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