Thursday, January 17, 2013

Eating Dinosaurs with Old Friends

I belong to a prayer circle of women who I’ve known since Pink Panther popsicles and goomies. About five years ago, we formed the circle because we were grown-ass women who felt like overgrown teenagers.  Our gatherings are much like Blanche, Sofia, Dorothy, and Rose who shared their pangs, woes and pleasures over endless cheesecake pies. But our menus are slightly different; Tastee’s Jamaican patties, Syrian lamb skewers and spicy, red rice, vegan oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and Publix Chocolate Trinity Ice Cream are among my favorites. I’m the wine girl, so I’m proud to say that I proselytized the gals out of White Zin. They’re into sparkling rosé, so I usually bring a bottle. But what’s most delicious are the endless bowls of laughter as we reminisce the past, gently or not-so-gently poking at each other’s strange phases (Back in the day, I dated a crazy DJ I named Mufasa). We laugh loud and hard and long, hoping our echoes will cling on until tomorrow. The last time we gathered, my friend, T, made a vegan lamb stew with sautéed dinosaur kale and steamed jasmine rice. None of us are vegan, but since she’s married to one, she’s mastered some delicious recipes. And this is definitely one of them. I adore Indian food and relished the cumin, coriander, fennel, and cinnamon aromas dancing from her pot. I used to think that dinosaur kale could only be enjoyed in a juice with bananas and apples because the leaf’s texture is tough, but when it’s cooked gently, it reminds me of a mix of calaloo and collard greens. It’s hearty and filling much like the time I spend with my sisters.    



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dining in the Natural Mystic

The best meal ever!
My Dear Gourmet Squatters, I missed you. I recently lost my granny and have been pretty sad. If you’ve been reading Gourmet Squatter for a while now, you know how much I love my granny. God blessed her with 104 chapters of life, but still my family and I weep and rejoice for the departure of our beloved matriarch. So I recently returned from granny’s send-off celebration, and Folks, you’re not ready. On the day before the funeral, the mountains burst with the smell of roasting goats’ heads for manish water and smoky boar’s flesh for jerk pork (I really hope none of you are vegans). My mother says the pork skin has the best flavor, and it does.  A large tent was set as the village cooks hung, cut, and seasoned. The meats were roasted on tree barks and aged pits as the men bickered and puffed themselves into lives they wished they had. Music seemed to grow from the ground—everything from Bob’s “Natural Mystic” to songs I had never heard before like, “One Woman Cannot Satisfy Me.” But I was satisfied as I watched children leap from steep hills and run around the curvaceous earth. My favorite meal was a plate of steamed white rice, steamed callaloo seasoned with gorgeously green, long scallion stalks, onion, salt, pepper, and the juice from the escovitch fish my mom purchased from Old Harbour Bay. The meal was an ode to Jamaican culture--spicy, sweet and fresh. When darkness finally draped the land, a live band arrived and white rum flowed from the clouds as we danced, cried and drank to granny.