Kalinago Cuisine

Cassava Bread

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Cassava Bread

At the day break the Kalinago wemen bring to their husband in the kabet a small canari full of hot ouicou. Then crabs and fish with some tomali source. Half an hour latter they are served with fresh cassava  bread,  crabs, and fish. They apply them self to eating as to some important work and in deep silence (Raymond Bretom Dictionary Fracais Caraibe 1635-1656)

The above excerpt clearly demonstrates the importance of a meal to the Kalinago people. The cuisine of the Kalinago depends on where they live and what is available at the time of the year. The diet is largely based on fish and meat,  this is complemented with greens,  root crops,  local herbs and spices.

In todays cuisine fish is the number one choice followed by meat both domestic and imported and to a lower extent wildlife which include crabs, crayfish, manicou, and agouti. They other delicacies are bwigo,  shaloop, viyo, and shattoo water which is considered boosters. A traditional breakfast is a visoucanne (cane juice) with cocoa and cinnamon and let coco (cocoa nut milk) roast plantain or breadfruit with roast meat or pweson bucannar  with hot pepper and shieve.

For lunch a saucecoco (cocoa nut cream) with pweson bucannnen seasoned with local herbs and spices coloured with roucou and a good ton ton and hot pepper. The most common and fastest way is the one pot . this include root crops such as dasheen, yams, tannia, green bananas fresh fish or smoke meat in cocoa nut cream with local herbs and spices and a little hot pepper. This type of cooking is very popular with the farmers incoudmen or young boys having a cook up by the beach or river side.

Herbal teas is still common in some families but is gradually being replaced by canned chocolate, and milk. Depending in the economic  status of the family they can afford to buy more imported food and ingredients. Also persons who live outside the territory expose to and learn new method of cooking. It is interesting to know within the territory cooking method varies in different hamlets for example in some hamlet you get alot of sauce. While in the other a lot of food colouring is used.

Sadly though most of this delicacies and delicious dishes are reserved for and cooked within the family at home. Traditional holidays and festive season have a lot of influence on what is cooked during the year depending on what is available. November to December there is a lot of fish also during the Christmas season animals are being slaughtered so for boxing day you have the favorite smoke porn red beans and grounds provision. During February which is carnival festive season one can enjoy dried and pigeon peas or calaloo tishou and pumpkin with dry beef. Cassava and arraroot toloman are also available during that time.

Over the years a number of individuals have been trained in food preparation to cater for visitors and functions that are being held in the territory. However no emphasis was placed in to presenting something Kalinago. So there was no difference from what you would get from a regular food place on the rest of the island. Therefore Karifuna Cultural group has taken steps to address this problem, and has facilitated a Kalinago Cuisine work shop where 18 people were trained in Kalinago cuisine. The group has also documented the recipes and has produce a Kalinago traditional cook book. Here are a few recipes.

By Prosper Paris