Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Carnival - Carricaou Style

Oh, yeah, we had fun at J'Ouvert!
Every island in the Caribbean has it's own version of Carnival. They are at different times of the year and each island adds it's own unique flavor. The only other Carnival that we have been to was in Dutch Sint Maarten. What I remember from the parade there were lots of fancy costumes and, of course plenty of dancing and partying.

Carriacou even has a different Carnival than Grenada, even though they are the same country - they are different islands. Carriacou's Carnival coincides with Mardi Gras and so we were lucky enough to be here to celebrate.

The party got started on Sunday afternoon and continued through late Tuesday night, no, wait, make that early Monday morning.  We started our party by waking at 4:00 AM (yes, that's AM) to attend the J'Ouvert festivities in the neighboring town of Hillsborough. J'Ouvert, basically a big street party/parade, is a contraction of the French words jour ouvert, which means day break and we had to get up early to be there, so we fortified ourselves with bloody mary's, coffee and breakfast tacos with Chris, Denise and Christian on their boat s/v Anne Bonney. We were joined by Bob and Deb of s/v Chimayo, they have a local car and provided us with transportation to the party!

The party was already started by the time we arrived. Everyone was in a festive mood and people were painted in all colors of paint and some were covered in motor oil. These participants are called Jab Jabs and they will be only too happy to smear you with some paint. I think I could live here for years and not understand the symbolism of some of the costumes. Obviously emancipation from slavery is a big part of it, but it seems to me like there were so many nuances that could take a lifetime of living here to comprehend. One example was a woman in a nuns costume with a big fish hanging out of her mouth.

We managed to get back to Storyville sometime around noon and it was time for a long, long nap! Then, after we were rested up we returned to Hillsborough the next day for the Mas Parade and even more fun and entertainment. Everyone participated from the young to the not so young! What a great time we had.

See what I mean? I have no explanation. 

Everyone gets in on the action!

OK, you tell me......

Shaquille, part of our Granadian family.

Interesting. Wonder what's in the bucket!

Waiting for the parade.

Mr. Serious

Part of the Shakespear Mas.

Denise and Chris are in on the fun!

Love the Mocko Jumbies.

OK, here you go - some real Jab Jabs!

Youngsters in the parade.

A lobster on the street!

King Neptune?

Every troop had a huge sound system!

And of course, steel pan music. 

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil!
Troy, Bob and Chris

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fried Bakes

I'm just now getting around to posting about the Fried Bakes that Nesta cooked for us.  I know everyone will want this recipe because they are awesome! Unfortunately, I let Darnell sail away with the recipe that Nesta wrote down for us. I will make sure to amend the post with the recipe. Of course, Nesta does it all by memory and didn't need a written recipe.

The bakes are fantastic! They are all warm and fluffy. We even sliced them open and popped in a piece of cheese. Nom, nom, nom.

Nesta and Darnell - ready to fry some bakes!
All the good stuff - yeast, four, a little sugar and some lard.
Nesta is an expert kneader - not too much kneading.
Troy volunteered to keep the guys entertained while we cooked. What a guy!
Just look at that perfect dough - time to let it rise.
Then roll it into perfect balls.
Let the frying begin!
Here is the result - lovely, yummy fried bakes!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Chive N Thyme

Nesta with me and Darnell
One of the (many) things that I am falling in love with in Grenada is the cooking. I'm having a blast trying out the local dishes on my own. Thanks to our friend Nesta, a Grenadian AND a fantastic cook, Darnell (s/v Island Dream), Carolyn (s/v Moondance) and myself have been having a ball learning to cook Grenadian style.

We took a trip to the fruit and vegetable market in St. Georges, with Nesta at our side to help make sure that we are charged the local prices. Just buying the vegetables is a pleasure, as you walk through the market, you see the lady washing her beautiful heads of lettuce in buckets and bagging them for you.  The tomatoes too were picked that very morning. I just love the sight of a well stocked vegetable market.

My bundle of chive n thyme
One thing you can never leave the market without is your chive n thyme. It's basically a bundle of seasoning goodness that you can be sure will include chive and thyme, but it's even better than that. You will almost always find a few extra goodies such as local basil, celery, or, if you're really lucky, a few leaves of chadon bene (pronounced shadow benny, it a local herb that tastes like cilantro). It's fun to cut the string on your chive n thyme and see what you find inside.

I decided to try my hand at pumpkin soup.  I used a big hunk of local pumpkin that I bought at the market and added  my bunch of chive n thyme, some fresh ginger, garlic, coconut milk and a few other goodies and let me tell you - Campbell's will be calling me for the recipe any day now! 

Nest week Nesta is making a visit to Storyville to teach Darnell, Carolyn and I how to make bakes. One hint about what makes bakes so good - they're fried!

Pumpkin soup, ready for the heat

This is some yummy soup (I grated a little nutmeg on top, just because I could

My chadon bene, growing in Storyville's cockpit

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Calabash Bowl

My Calabash Bowl, filled with salad

Check out my Calabash Bowl! It's a bowl made from the fruit of the Calabash tree. It's like a gourd in appearance and different trees actually make different shaped fruit. They are carved and used for cups, bowls, bottles (in years past sugar cane field workers carried Calabash bottles filled with water into the fields with them) and even for musical instruments and decorative uses.

The bowls are popular here in Grenada for use on the beach during oil downs. Lucky for us, our friend Jude has a Calabash tree growing next to his house. He happily made two bowls for us and also a beautifully carved candle holder.

This is the tree growing next to Jude's house
Calabash have grown all over the world, from Africa and Europe and the America's, for thousands of years before Columbus even discovered America. They have been carved and used for everything from carrying water to making music.
This is Jude. He made our Calabash Bowls!
Calabash growing on the tree

Our bowls came from this tree
Jude also carved this beautiful Calabash candle holder for me

Monday, December 16, 2013

Oil Down

Our Grenadian family invited us to an oil down on the beach yesterday. Oil down is the national dish of Grenada. It's a hearty, one-pot meal, cooked over an open fire on the beach. The ingredients vary, depending on who the cook is and what is available, but some of the staples remain the same, such as breadfruit and callaloo. The ingredients are layered in the pot, starting with a layer of breadfruit, green bananas and meat. Some seasoning is added, then another layer on top of that. The dumpling are next, followed by a layer of okra and callaloo.

The whole family was involved, some with getting the fire going, some with prepping the meat, some with peeling and chopping the veggies. Dog the Bounty Hunter was in charge and he let Stacy and I help as much as we wanted. A few of the things I helped with were staining the coconut water (by hand), making the dumplings and chopping the callaloo. What a very fun day we had, just hanging out on the beach and helping with the cooking and playing with the kids. I hope we get to do it all again one day soon.

We are very blessed to have this wonderful family here in Grenada that took us under their wing. Thanks to Rene and Stacy and Lisa and Sea Dog for meeting them and letting us join in the family.  They include us in their family gatherings where we love to sing (at the top of our lungs)..... "We are famileeeeee, we are one famileeeeee". They are such fantastic people and they truly do make us feel right at home on their lovely island.

Here is the story in pictures:

It all starts out innocently enough, a couple of limes, some
seasoning peppers and onions.
Some breadfruit and green bananas.
Everyone got in on helping peel and cut up the breadfruit.
Some chicken wings and turkey wings were added to the pot.
Time for the onions and seasoning peppers. Interestingly, other
herbs were added when someone picked them and brought them over.
I think it was lemongrass and maybe some kind of wild basil and
possible shadow benny (a wild herb that tastes like cilantro).
Time for the seasoning - lots of turmeric!
The callaloo (or dasheen) was chopped, to be
added on the last layer, along with some okra.
Stacy and I (with supervision from Dog) strained the coconut
milk by hand.
Then we made the dumpling by hand - also closely supervised
by Dog.
Coconut milk, herbs, meat, green bananas, dumplings, breadfruit.
This looks ready for the fire.
Then we added the chopped callaloo to the top.
Put a lid on and let it boil!
This is the finished product. Looks yummy, can't wait to
give it a taste!
Move the pot off the fire.....
Remove the cooked okra and callaloo from the top and stir
it together in a bowl, forming a kind of sauce.
I was too busy eating to take any more pictures. This stuff is fantastic. I ate until I couldn't eat another bite. Thanks again to our family for another great day!

Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity. ~Voltaire