MYF - Stacy K

>> Wednesday 16 July 2014

Hi and Welcome to another edition of MY FOOD!

MY FOOD is an online research project into my ongoing interest in Caribbean food culture and food heritage. The project seeks to explore how we connect, communicate and use food as part of our identity. These interviews are the raw data gathered which will be analysed at the end of the interview phase of the project. If you would like more details and want to know how to participate, click here for full details.

From San Jose, California, we welcome Stacy K.

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MF: Stacy, welcome to MY FOOD. How long have you been living abroad?
SK: About 29 years
MF: I know that you live in the US, has it always been in California?
SK: No, I have lived in a number of cities across the US including New Jersey, Virginia and Indiana.
MF: It's been almost 3 decades since you've been living in the US, how do you identify yourself?
SK: Trinidadian to the bone.
MF: If you had to choose a particular dish or two that would identify you as "Trini to de bone" what would it/they be?
SK: That's easy, Doubles and Pelau. Doubles is definitely a Trinidadian dish but so too is Pelau. Not only do I love Pelau, but most Trinidadians would consider it as one of our signature dishes. The Trinidadian way of cooking Pelau is very distinct from the rest of the Caribbean. We often burn the sugar in a little bit of oil, then add the remaining ingredients (seasonings, meat or veggies, pigeon peas and rice). I have such fun memories of my mom and aunts cooking Pelau.
MF: What food or drink, for you, is a taste of home?
SK: When I think of home, I think of a big, tall glass of Mauby and Doubles, not necessarily consumed together.
MF: When you are entertaining, whether at the holidays or general occasions, what, if any dishes from home do you make?
SK: When we are entertaining, depending on who our guests are, we sometimes make roti and curry.
MF: If the people at the gathering are not West Indian, do you still make dishes from home? If you do, do you ever explain what the dishes are or how they are made or eaten?
SK: If the people at our gathering are not West Indian, we prepare roti and curry and we always ask them in advance if it is something they would like to have. These days most people know what roti and curry is so we don't really have to explain what it is. But we do explain how we make it.
MF: What about potlucks - do you make and carry dishes from back home or something more in keeping with American food?
SK: For potlucks we try to make a dish from back home. It is an adventure for some people and definitely a way for us to try different foods from other places.
MF: What are some of the rituals, traditions or practices associated with food from back home that you upkeep? Why?
SK: One of the practices that I upkeep is eating roti with my hands because it is easier to eat it that way, but it also reminds me of being back home.
MF: What are some of the must-have pantry items that you always have stocked to make Trinidad food?
SK: Curry powder and pepper sauce are necessities for me.
MF: What type of food do you make or eat as a part of your everyday food routine?
SK: I mostly make American food but we do try to cook a Caribbean dish at least 3 times a month. The biggest challenge living in San Jose is that we do not have access to some of the fresh food ingredients we would need to prepare some of these dishes.
MF: What is your favourite Trinidadian dish?
SK: Callaloo and Stew Chicken
MF: How would you describe the food of Trinidad and Tobago?
SK: Trinidadian food is very flavourful and varied. We season everything! And our culture is comprised of a number of ethnicities including Indian, Chinese, and Spanish as well as other islanders. One of our favourite things to eat is Trinidad Chinese food. It is definitely different in so many ways from Chinese food in the US.
MF: We say the same thing about Guyanese Chinese food (laugh). How important/not important is it for your children to know the cuisine of your homeland? Why?
SK: It is very important. It is a way to share some of what I enjoyed as a child so that they can also identify with their heritage being Trinidadian-Americans.
MF: When you visit home and are ready to return to the US, what are some of the food you take back with you?
SK: When I visit home I always bring back various snacks such as Kurma, Tamarind Balls, Fried Split Peas/channa and Mauby bark.
MF: Is there any American food or drink that you have taken and made your own either by the use of ingredients, technique etc?
SK: I try to Trini-ize everything where possible. I always season my food the way we do in Trinidad, and use cilantro in everything, a substitute for my favourite Trinidadian herb, chadon beni. Sometimes I find this herb in the Asian grocery stores.
MF: Is it important for you to keep a connection to your homeland through food? Please explain your answer.
SK: Yes, both Trinidad and the Caribbean in general because I don't want to forget where I came from, and it (food) is the only link I can find on a day-today basis to remind me.
MF: Thanks Stacy!

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Would you like to share your food with MY FOOD? Leave a comment below or inbox me directly. This project is open to anyone that falls into any of the categories below.

  • Caribbean/West Indian living at home
  • Caribbean/West Indian living abroad
  • Non-Caribbean/West Indian married to or partnered with West Indian folk
  • Non-Caribbean/West Indian, however, the region has been home for at least 5 years.

Join the conversation on Facebook. It's easy to participate, click here for details. The next instalment is a fortnight from today.

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