A blog for gourmet palates
living on squatter budgets.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Cooking for the Jam-American Sadists
A black pepper dry salami mixed green salad precedes this year's gluttony showdown
In my family, I’m considered “The Black American.” If I do anything distinctly un-Jamaican, my mother, an old-school, Jamaican kitchen-magician is quick to explain my peculiar behavior: She was born in this country. You know how dem stay. I’m a first generation Miamian, and so for my pre-dominantly Jamaican-born family, I’m usually the go-to reference for all things black American. My mother loves to hear the southern, ghetto, black American idiosyncrasies that drip from my mixed Jamaican-Brooklyn-Miami-white-girl twang. She loves when I precede our now adult conversations with: Girl, she said this or he said that. That said, Thanksgiving is considered my holiday. I took the cooking-torch from my mother back in 2000, vowing to bring black America to our Kingstonian table that usually begat dishes like curry goat, rice and gungo peas and jerk turkey. As a child, I secretly envied my friends whose Thanksgiving tables boasted macaroni-n-cheese, honeymoon salad, homemade buttermilk biscuits, peach cobbler, sweet potato pie, and those turkeys that looked like the ones in the Crisco commercials. I hated our desserts which consisted mainly of “puddin’ ”—a dense sweet potato dessert that I’m still not crazy about. But there’s a lot of pressure to please these Jamaican flagged palates that can season meats blindfolded and transform the blandest dish into a boisterous score of rhythmic flavor. My mother and aunts are amazing cooks, and if you don’t meet their expectations, they’ll growl in disapproval. A few years ago, a very dear friend joined us for Thanksgiving and had a full-on, face-buried-in-my-sheets panic attack when presenting her crab stuffing to the flavor sadists. It was a hit, though they complained about having to wait so long for its completion. My cooking reviews have been good though my mother would never entrust her beloved rice and gungu peas to me.