I believe roast pork is the gateway to salvation.Anyone who disagrees is a fool and should be denounced.And never, ever trim the fat that adorns pork; it’s there for a reason.Fat liberates the soul and increases the flow of oxygen to the brain.All Caribbean children know this; our no-nonsense approach to the culinary arts is based on
centuries of rigorous scientific analysis. Thankfully, our pioneering theories are now being
championed at home and abroad.
In this audio, Wynne
Charles, a folklore specialist from Trinidad, pays homage to the market women of St. Croix. He
also references local foods.
(The term "Turn-Hand" refers to the retail business.)
When we were children, the United States was often described as a
country where food was poorly seasoned and where people stumbled about in the kitchen without rhyme
or reason. We also heard chilling tales of the "goat foot woman"–
a mysterious being with furry goat feet instead of legs, who sometimes soared through the air
without rhyme or reason.
At 43, I no longer fear the "goat foot" woman, but I still
believe food should be prepared with ample seasoning and adequate reasoning. I have a legacy to
uphold; I'm the grandson of well-known Crucian chef, Alma Doward. For decades, Grandma had a brisk business selling food during the Christmas
carnival season, and folks would come from near and far to savor her treats
Like most Virgin Islanders, I grew up on dishes like kallaloo, fish
and fungi, conch in butter sauce, crab and rice, saltfish and dumplings, red peas soup, bullfoot
soup, souse and potato salad, stewed goat and seasoned rice, whelks, lechon pastels and roast pork,
It is impossible, though, to talk about Virgin Islands cuisine
outside of a larger Caribbean context. We West Indians eat many of the same dishes and some, like
Kallalloo and fungi are of African origin. Kallaloo is a thick, spinach-like soup that almost always
contains okra, fish, pieces of salted beef and pork and sometimes crab. And fungi is made of
cornmeal and sometimes okra; it is commonly served with Kallalloo or fish.
Kallaloo is prepared differently from island to island; you'll even
find variations on St. Croix. One "traditional" Crucian recipe calls for the leaves of
local greens like "Papalolo," "White Mary,” "Pusley,” "Bata-Bata,”
"Bower" and "Tannia." However, people often make Kallaloo by using only the
leaves of Papalolo, and perhaps, store-bought spinach.
Because of our colonial past, you might also see remnants of Danish,
French and Spanish influences in our foods. And like wise people are prone to do, we've also adopted
dishes from neighboring islands and made them our own. My mother, for example, has become quite
proficient at making pasteles –
a Puerto Rican favorite especially around Christmas time. But even Puerto Rican pasteles, I’ve
recently learned, is a legacy from our African forebears.
traveled the world, and I’ve sampled the cuisine of many cultures.Yet, I still crave the dishes of Africa and the Caribbean.The rich and varied cuisine of our ancestors soothes not only our bodies – it reminds us of
who we are, where we’ve been, and where we yearn to go.
Interview with legendary Cariso Master, Leona Watson: “Darkie
Yet the Fowl Wing” is a popular song about a cook who ate a piece of chicken.The word “yet” means to eat.