>> Thursday, 5 June 2014
It's a day late but here it is - another instalment of MY FOOD!
MY FOOD is an online research project into my ongoing interest in Caribbean food culture and food heritage. It seeks to explore how we use food to identify ourselves, to connect and communicate. For full details of the project and how you can participate, click here.
Featured this week is one of Guyana's finest: Journalist and Writer - Iana Seales. Iana, I am delighted to welcome you to MY FOOD.
MF: How would you describe Guyanese food?
IS: The local cuisine is not native to Guyana though we have traditional dishes which are native to our indigenous community. However, our cuisine is a fusion of influences from across the globe - this includes Africa, Asia and Europe.MF: What is your favourite dish?
IS: This would be Mettagee with Smoked Herring because I love ground provisions, and fish somehow tastes better smoked!Mettagee is ground provisions cooked in fresh coconut milk with fresh herbs and it flavoured and seasoned with salt fish or salt meat such as pigtail or salt beef.
MF: What is generally your eating style?
IS: Up until this New Year (2014), I made no attempt to plan my diet. Now I have a weekly food chart - I eat fish once a week, preferably on Sundays; chicken twice a week; peas and beans twice a week, and I have ground provisions and pasta once a week - pasta and ground provisions are weekend only. I eat salads at least 4 times a week, often veggie salads. I try to eat fruits at least 4 times a week. The goal is to have the right amount of protein, carbs, vegetables and fruits in my diet.MF: What is a typical weekend dish that you look forward to?
IS: Baked pasta (macaroni) with cheese and bacon bits! Got the idea from Jamie Oliver a year ago. Before this, it was Fried Rice but I am cutting down on rice in my diet and I've been making strides.MF: On any given Sunday, what's on the menu?
IS: PastaMF: If you had to choose a dish or beverage that marks or identifies you as a Guyanese, what would it be? Explain your answer.
IS: Mettagee. I fell in love with it even before considering the cultural/ethnic influence. I am Afro-Guyanese and the dish has its origins in Africa, which is where my fore parents originated from.MF: Food is at the centre of most holidays and festivals. Which is your favourite festival/holiday food?
IS: Pepperpot. Pepperpot is native to our indigenous community in Guyana and I was fortunate to grow up in a home where it was a staple at Christmas. I identify Christmas with Pepperpot; if there is no Pepperpot on the table Christmas morning then it is not Christmas for me. I have lived overseas and I managed to have Pepperpot on December 25 during the time I was away, and on those days the distance all but disappeared.MF: Me too - if there is no Pepperpot, it is not Christmas for me. Where do you live now?
IS: In GuyanaMF: Where do you generally shop for your food?
IS: Supermarket for meat, poultry, seafood and dry goods. Market for vegetables and fruits.MF: Can you cook?
IS: The question is how good do I think I am (smile).MF: Do you cook? If yes, how often?
IS: I cook at least 5 days a week, I usually take a day or two off to relax.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)?
IS: Mettagee!MF: Do you eat street food? If yes, what's your favourite?
IS: I do. I believe that would be curry and roti.MF: If you are having overseas guests (not from the Caribbean) and you needed to make a couple of dishes that say this is Guyanese food. What would they be?
IS: Mettagee (obviously, I prepare it very well). Curry & Roti (I make a mean curry). Cook-up Rice (because it is simple, could be very tasty and it's a popular local dish). Macaroni & Cheese (I get better at this every time and it's also very popular here - in Guyana)MF: Do you cook dishes from other cuisines or dishes from other parts of the Caribbean? If yes, give examples. If no, explain.
IS: Yes, I do the Peas and Rice and Jerk Chicken from Jamaica. I love this dish! I find myself using jerk seasoning a lot now because it has a great flavour.MF: If you were migrating forever, what do you think that you would miss the most about the food in Guyana?
IS: I would miss the natural ingredients - the local produce that comes straight from the farm to the market. This is so rare overseas. I like the smell of fresh veggies and fruits - it awakens me and it inspires me to cook. I've lived overseas and the processed food is depressing - so depressing that I often suffer, lose weight and end up at a hospital being counselled about my diet and healthy eating habits.MF: If you could take a food journey anywhere in the world, where would you want to go and why?
IS: I would love to go to China. There is so much about their cuisine that makes me curious. Also, I want to get a little more adventurous with food that I think there could be no better place to start than China.MF: Thanks for taking the time for sharing your food with MY FOOD, Iana.
Iana Seales is a columnist at Stabroek News. Here column is titled: FOR DE RECORD.
If you would like to share your food with MY FOOD, or know someone that does, leave a comment below or inbox be directly. This project is open to anyone that falls into one or more of the categories below.
- Caribbean/West Indian living at home
- Caribbean/West Indian living abroad (1st, 2nd, 3rd generation. State your generation)
- Non Caribbean/West Indian married to, partnered with Caribbean 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 it is easy to participate, click here for details. The next instalment is Wednesday, June 18.