MYF - Mark

>> Wednesday, 23 April 2014

You were probably wondering if men are not interested in MY FOOD. They are! And this week is the first of several.

MY FOOD is an online research project into my ongoing interest 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.

In the sunshine state of Florida, we find my friend Mark.

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MF: Mark, welcome to MY FOOD! How long have you been living abroad?
Mark: 20 years
MF: You are?
Mark: Guyanese
MF: What is a dish or 2 that you would say identifies you as Guyanese?
Mark: Pepperpot and Cook-up Rice. I like the unique preparation of these two dishes and the variety of ingredients, particularly for Cook-up Rice.
MF: What for you is a taste of home?
Mark: Cook-up Rice and Swank or one of our local fruit drinks. I like five-finger and gooseberry.
MF: When you are entertaining, whether at the holidays or generally, what if any home dishes do you make?
Mark: Cook-up Rice, Fried Rice or Curry.
MF: If your guests or non-West Indian, do you still make those dishes?
Mark: Yes, I do.
MF: Do you explain to them what the dishes are?
Mark: Most of the time.
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MF: When you go to potluck get-togethers, what's your choice of dishes to make - West Indian or one from your adopted home?
Mark: I usually choose a rice dish but cook it the way we (Guyanese) do. Or sometimes I would buy pastries like pine tarts, patties and cheese rolls; it is a way to introduce people to something different.
MF: What are some of the rituals, traditions or practices associated with food from back home that you upkeep?
Mark: I buy leafy vegetables instead of the pre-cut variety and prepare them the way my grandmother did, mainly because I am comfortable with the way I was taught.
MF: How did your grandmother cook her greens?
Mark: She started by washing the leaves individually. For some leafy vegetables she would add salt to a bowl of water and wash the leaf, for example, thick-leaf callaloo. They were then cut and placed in a colander to drain. She would heat the oil in a pan (karahi), sauté onions, tomatoes, shallots, pepper and herbs, stir in the veggies, cover the pan and cook (steam) on low fire. Our veggies were always steamed this way.
MF: What was the food you missed most when you first moved abroad?
Mark: Fruits and vegetables especially bora (snake bean, yard long bean) and thick-leaf callaloo.
MF: What are some of the must-have pantry items that you always have stocked to make Guyanese food?
Mark: Curry powder, masala and geera (cumin)
MF: What type of food do you make or eat as a part of your everyday food routine?
Mark: Mostly Caribbean with some Italian-American.
MF: What is your favourite Guyanese dish?
Mark: Cook-up Rice. Roti and curry.
MF: How would you describe Guyanese food?
Mark: It is difficult to describe since the food is so diverse as is the influences - Indian, Chinese, African…
MF: How important is it for your children to know the cuisine of your homeland/birth country?
Mark: Very important. I want my child to know about my heritage and diverse culture.
MF: When you visit Guyana and are ready to return to your home abroad, what are some of the foods/ingredients that you take/bring back with you?
Mark: Nothing because so many things are readily available here even snacks and pastries like Cheese straws and mittai and plantain chips. I wish I could bring back local fruits but there are too many restrictions (customs).
MF: Is there a street food or shop-around-the-corner snack that was your favourite or makes you recalls a fond memory?
Mark: I was on vacation in Trinidad and visited a roti shop and I was taken aback by the size of the roti;  it was as big as an open umbrella. I had never seen roti that big and was blown away. It was a 2-day dinner.
MF: Is it important for you to keep a connection to your homeland through food?
Mark: Well 95% of what I cook is done the Guyanese way and it is the only way of cooking that I know. However, most of the so-called food I crave from back home is not the main dishes like fried rice, chowmein etc. but the fruits, snacks and pastries. I long for a star apple, monkey apple, gooseberries, soursop, jamoon - not only to eat but to make homemade drinks.
MF: Now you have made me homesick for Guyanese fruits. Thanks for sharing your food Mark!

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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, May 7.

Read more...

Herby Mac Pie with Smoked Gouda & New Zealand Cheddar

>> Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Herby Mac Pie1 photo HerbyMacPie3_zps0293dd9f.jpg

Macaroni Pie is a weekend and holiday staple on tables all across the Caribbean. Each country and indeed each home has its own recipe for making this dish. With the long Easter weekend coming up, this is a sure thing on the dining table.

Every time I make Macaroni Pie also known as Macaroni and Cheese, I like to change things up a bit. Not so much that diners would raise their eyebrows with scepticism or shake their heads indicating that something is not right. I change the flavours just so that they can nod with approval or say, "This is good pie." One can play around with a lot of things but don't ever fool around with people's macaroni pie. We take it seriously.

I LOVE smoked Gouda and it complimented the herbs very well in this pie. New Zealand cheddar, the brand Anchor is as homemade and Caribbean as one can get. We live for Anchor Cheese and not to be outdone is Australian cheddar. While we get English Cheddar, we certainly prefer the firm, sharp cheddar from New Zealand and Australia.

If you're looking for a side dish to make this weekend, try my Herby Mac Pie with Smoked Gouda & New Zealand Cheddar.

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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!

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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.

Read more...
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