Meal 84: Jamaica

I was surprised to read in my research for this meal that a lot of Jamaicans wish they’d never gone independent from the United Kingdom, missing the economic stability and lower crime of that bygone era. It turns out that this tropical island, which on the surface is about as different as possible from that European one, has a fair amount more in common with it than you would think, at least through the lens of food. The patty, for […]

Meal 73: Guyana

It’s considered Caribbean, though it’s on the South American continent. It was first colonized by the Dutch, gained its independence from England, has a notable native population, yet the two largest populations are of (East) Indian and African descent. No doubt, Guyana — pronounced like the first names Guy and Anna together — is quite the blend of cultures, a study in miniature (the population’s under one million) of many of the influences of the colonial age on the Americas. […]

Meal 72: Haiti

Have you ever pondered what would have happened if something went differently at a given point in history? Compared with the rest of the Western Hemisphere, Haiti is sort of a real-life example of contrarian history. The crux is a slave revolt against French colonial masters that, incredibly, led to independence in 1804. The slave system was ruthless and required a constant influx of slaves, which had the silver-lining consequence of a strong syncretic culture quickly developing that combined French […]

Meal 71: Grenada

Until Hurricane Ivan wiped out most of the nutmeg trees, this little speck of a 133-square-mile Caribbean island country was the world’s number two producer of the spice. It’s become so important to the culture and economy of Grenada that there’s a nutmeg on the flag. Beyond the focus on this spice, Grenadian food is closely related to that of its neighbors, with a strong focus on root vegetables and the greens that they produce. Our guests were Rachna, Lisa, […]

Meal 51: Dominican Republic

Another Thanksgiving weekend, another nosh in San Francisco!  To go with the gorgeous weather, the calendar aligned on Dominican Republic, the second-largest country of the Caribbean. While the Bay Area is no stranger to foods from Spanish-speaking lands, there’s few Caribbeans around, so these dishes made for something more of a novelty here than they would have been in Dominican-immigrant-heavy New York. Thanks to the kind folks at Hattery, I had a big kitchen to discover the intriguing Dominican way […]

Meal 50: Dominica

Dominica is a tiny little island country, in the middle of that north-south string of Caribbean islands. You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s the Spanish-speaking half of Hispaniola, but no, that’s the Dominican Republic. They both use the adjective Dominican; to assert that you mean this beautiful, actively volcanic, lush-in-parts island, place the stress on the third syllable, domiNIcan. The national Dominican dish is the so-called Mountain Chicken, which is actually a species of giant frog, so tasty and easy to […]

Week 18: Belize

Belize navidad! In our last feast of the year in Brooklyn, we head to the small yet super-diverse country of Belize. From the creoles in the towns, to the inland Mayans, to the Afro-Caribbean Garifuna in the south, there are several culinary traditions to follow in a country of a third of a million people. So I did my best to incorporate some of all of them, and as I discovered, what ties them all together is coconut milk — […]

Week 15: Barbados

Barbados is forever connected to rum — they’ve been making it there for over three hundred years, probably for nearly as long as it was a British sugar plantation colony. So because given this was our third Caribbean meal, and perhaps because the previous two countries were Muslim, I focused a bit more on the drinking side of things, making two drinks from scratch that are classically Bajan (BAH-zhun, the colloquial term for Barbadian). Our guests tonight were Elly, her […]

Week 12: The Bahamas

The word Bahamas is attributed to the Spanish “baja mar,” or under the sea. Accordingly, seafood was a prominent factor in this meal. Amazing we got through eleven meals before cooking fresh treats from the ocean. (Remember, for Antigua and Barbuda, the fish was salt cod.) And by all accounts, the seafood that defines Bahamian cuisine is the conch — pronounced conk. To find this and other ingredients such as sour orange, I biked up to south Williamsburg and to […]

Week 6: Antigua and Barbuda

Our first Caribbean country! With so many little islands with a lot of culinary and cultural overlap, I’m trying to pick out what’s really distinctive about the cuisine of each. My prep-work was made really easy this time: I found the recipes for the entire meal on just one page! Big thanks to Cordy for that, especially the photos which helped me make sure I did it right. This was our first meal on a weeknight, thanks to Irene. Our […]