There’s No Food Like Home’s

Welcome to the July Carnival of Natural Parenting: Let’s Talk About Food

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about their struggles and successes with healthy eating. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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I cannot think of my culture without thinking of food. Food is a necessary part of my memories of home and what it means to be a Bajan.

There is no November without conkies.

There is no Christmas without baking.

There is no “town” without snow-cones.

There are no Sunday lunches without rice and peas.

There are no weddings without rum cake.

There are no mornings without “tea.”

Whenever my mother comes to visit she brings a suitcase full of goodies that include tamarind balls, sugar cakes, Shirley biscuits, Ju-C, mauby, and Eclipse biscuits. I relish these goodies like the rare treasures they are. C politely declines to eat most of them because his palate is decidedly content with its Midwestern tastes.

Yet, despite food being such a big part of my Bajan identity, I don’t usually cook Bajan food at home. When I moved to the US as a teenager, my daily meals became more American and once I left for college I was thoroughly immersed in American culture.

Now I cook things like turkey chilli, turkey meatloaf, spaghetti and ground turkey with spaghetti sauce, and stirfry. However, my dishes hint at my Caribbean upbringing because I’m certainly not afraid to use spices (Sidenote: Beware of restaurants that use mangoes and pineapples in a dish and call it “Caribbean.” Real Caribbean food is savory and spicy more so than fruity and sweet). Plus, I can’t seem to bake chicken without putting ketchup on it.

I wonder about what this will mean to Baby E as he grows up. I want his home to be reflective of his various heritages but I know my culture will be in the minority. He may not have memories of my grandmother in her kitchen stirring cornmeal with a cou-cou stick but I’ll make sure he knows what cou-cou is. When he asks for sweet tea on a hot summer’s day, I’ll make sure he knows mauby is an option. And when I take him home to Barbados for visits he’ll learn that “sea grapes” aren’t really grapes, “golden apples” aren’t really apples, “fat porks” don’t come from pigs, and you can’t really hurt anyone with a “lead pipe.”

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated July 13 with all the carnival links.)

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Posted on July 13, 2010, in Barbados, Blog Carnival, Random bits from my life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. It’s wonderful to be able to share the traditions that we grew up with with our kids, even if it isn’t in the same way. And thanks for the info about mangos and pineapple in the Caribbean food! I know a guilty restaurant already!

  2. I love this article, and the glimpse it’s given me into Bajan culture. It makes me want to go find out more about all the dishes you listed (and sample them!).

    It must be a challenge to raise your son to know his heritage, but it sounds like you’ll figure out a way. I think this post will be a great thing to save to show him someday.

  3. What about starting a “Bajan dinner” once a month (or however often)? If I had a rich cultural heritage, I would LOVE to celebrate it regularly. And I’m sure E will have fond memories of Bajan food as he gets older :)

  4. What a rich culture you have-I’m going to have to wikipedia like all the foods you mentioned because I’ve never heard of most of them! I’m sure you’ll do a great job of sharing your culinary traditions with your son!

  5. I’d love to hear how you make your sweet tea! Great piece…

    • Since moving to the city I currently reside in, I’ve become a frequent consumer of “sweet tea.” To make mauby the old fashioned way, you need to boil the bark of the mauby tree first to make “bitters.” You add water and (preferably brown) sugar to a small amount of the bitters, then chill. The amount of bitters you use depends on your taste, just know that the more you use the more bitter it will taste. The new school way to make mauby involves adding water to ready made mauby syrup.

  6. Oh wow, I am so intrigued by the food you are describing! How beautiful to have an entire separate culture’s food to identify with rather than solely relying on the regular ol’ American diet. What a wonderful thing to be able to pass on to your children.

    • I hope Baby E finds it just as intriguing. Although, I will say that I’ve been plenty intrigued by American food at times. I remember really wanting to try pancakes with maple syrup when I was a kid.

  7. “Beware of restaurants that use mangoes and pineapples in a dish and call it “Caribbean.” Real Caribbean food is savory and spicy more so than fruity and sweet)” – Oh how true! I understood all the fruit references but what the heck is ‘lead pipe’ or maybe we call it something else in T’dad?

    • A “lead pipe” is a small, heavy, almost cylindrical cake with a consistency like coconut bread (what we call sweet bread). I haven’t found a good link describing it otherwise I would post a picture.

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