Meal 131: Panama

For the second year, we invited everyone on the block for a late-summer Nosh. Laura got a permit to close down the street, neighbors brought over tables and chairs, and everyone sat down…just in time for the very first rain of the season to arrive!

Since most of what people know about Panama is its role in transportation due to its canal, it felt appropriate to be eating this meal in a long line in the street! It was also a treat to have the Smiths over from the other side of town; we were happy to have them crash our otherwise neighbors-only event because they lived in Panama and shared stories of living in the American community there.

A big thanks to the two dozen or so neighbors who showed up, both physically as well as for fundraising. It was one of our biggest meals yet in terms of money raised.

Patacones | Twice-fried green plantains | Recipe

Green or ripe, thick or thin or even lengthwise or diced, there’s pretty much no bad way to fry a plantain. But there’s an even better way: to do it twice. Some Caribbean countries call them patacones, others tostones, and all of them start by a quick one or two minute fry, then a smash, then a longer fry to get them crispy. Unlike the other countries, the classic Panamanian way to eat them is with ketchup on the side, a habit attributed to the Americans who built and for a long time ran the Panama Canal.

I figured they’d be popular, so I made nearly one plantain’s worth per person. Even though they’re of course best straight from the fryer, I made them all a bit before dinner and kept them warm in the oven, and nobody complained. They just asked for more.

Chicheme | Sweet corn drink | Recipe

This was kinda like Caribbean bubble tea: a fairly refreshing, milky, cinnamon-y beverage, studded with toothsome kernels of dried then boiled corn. It was fine, but most guests understandably opted for beer or other more familiar refreshments.

Sancocho | Hen soup | Recipe

Most recipes for this mainstay of Panama call for gallina de patio, which pretty much means the post-menopausal hen that’s tottering around outside of the house. It turns out that at both Hispanic and Asian markets, you can find stewing hens in the freezer, for pretty cheap too. (Pretty sure they’re from an environment a tad less prosaic than a rural patio, but we make do with what we can.)

The predominant flavor of the soup is meant to be culantro, a close relative of cilantro with a sort of earthier flavor, but I couldn’t find it so I used plenty of cilantro instead. The soup was tasty, but I should have cooked it even longer, because old hens are really tough. Maybe this would be a good one for a pressure cooker.

Arroz con guandú | Rice with pigeon peas | Recipe

Even if you’ve never heard the name, you’ve possibly had pigeon peas in Indian food; one of the most common dishes in that cuisine is the stew-like, yellow toor dal made with the dried, hulled, split version of the legume. In the Caribbean, it’s typically eaten fresh, though up here you get it frozen when possible and otherwise canned, which we did here. All the same, it’s got a beany flavor for sure, but with a bit of almost smokiness to it. Which makes it perfect to mix with rich coconut rice, as a hearty way to fill your belly and get some nice flavor.

Flan | Custard | Recipe

Flan is a thing pretty much anywhere the Spanish colonized. Usually when a dish is that widespread, you see different varieties and regionalisms evolve, but as far as I can tell, everyone who cooks flan pretty much does it exactly the same way and hardly ever with any flavor variation: a lightly vanilla-scented egg custard with a sauce of caramelized sugar.  (The only variations I’ve seen involve differing amounts of fresh and/or canned milk products.)

I put the request out for a neighbor to help make flan, and there was some confusion and suddenly we ended up with way too much flan. (There was one or two out of the picture!) They were all made with different recipes, and all tasted pretty much the same. The only variation was Holly’s flan cake, which added some much appreciated variety.

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 instance, is probably directly derived from the Cornish pasty. The saltfish in the national dish was introduced through English trading ships, as was the quirky and beloved starch-on-a-tree, breadfruit. Even sorrel, that cheery drink, came on slave ships from West Africa. That said, it's held on good authority that jerk meat is a homegrown creation, and in fact allspice, found throughout the cuisine as mostly a spice for savory dishes, is native to the island.

Our guest of honor was Lois, from Jamaica! We also dined with Heather, Sarah, Brian, Chris, Betsy, and Christen. Despite the fact that it looks like I was pasted in the front there, I swear I was actually there, it's the lighting.

Planter's Punch

There's plenty of disagreement over whether this drink comes from South Carolina or Jamaica, but either way, this drink is a sweet, tropical refresher. Tropical juices and grenadine (which I made from scratch by boiling down pomegranate juice and adding sugar) hook up with dark rum and a dash of bitters, and voilà. There are as many recipes as bartenders!


The word in Spanish for the flower, and the rich red drink it makes, is jamaica. So I’m not at all surprised that the island with the same name loves to drink what we call hibiscus and they call sorrel. It’s got all the color and staining power of beets, with a fruity sourness reminiscent of pomegranate without the sweetness. Accordingly, when making a drink from the dried sepals, you sweeten it after a boil and long soak, and sometimes even add other flavors like ginger and clove. I made this one fairly tart, and Lois said she liked it that way, so hooray. Just be sure to not spill any on yourself or the stain will likely not come out! Goes very well with rum, by the way.

Saltfish and ackees | Recipe

While jerk is by far the best-known Jamaican food up here, the undisputed national dish is a breakfast food that looks like scrambled eggs but is made from an oily fruit and a salty dried fish. It’s curious that, even though they’re surrounded by abundant seas, the national dish is made from long-preserved fish from Canada, but colonial legacies will do strange things. At least the fruit is quite native: ackees look a bit like oversized lychees, but aren’t very sweet. So long as you remember to soak the fish overnight, the dish is a cinch to whip together, and tastes quite a bit better than it looks or sounds. I’d definitely eat this salty, moderately greasy, and tasty plate as a hangover cure.

Patties Recipe

A Jamaican patty is flaky, tinged yellow with curry, and traditionally stuffed with an allspice-heavy, moderately spicy ground-beef filling. I did that, as well as a vegetarian version with chorizo. As I continue to struggle with pastry, I gave up rolling out big sheets of the patty dough, and instead rolled out individual rounds, which was tedious but worked ok. The patties baked up nicely and were really quite yummy.

Jerk chicken Recipe

Once you’ve whipped up the off-white marinade, heavy with onions and the classic thyme and allspice, you’ll wonder how it’ll turn into that super-dark coating that you think of when you think of jerked meat. Well, it takes patience: first for the long marinade, and then the slow grill, but darken it will. It turned out so damn well: I’m sure part of it is due to having used tender local well-raised chicken, but that long marinade just took it to beautiful, spicy, flavorful places.


Ever heard of the Mutiny on the Bounty? The ship was on a mission from the Caribbean to the South Pacific to bring back samples of the tree that grows this big, fleshy, surprisingly bread-like fruit that was rumored to be super nutritious, as cheap food for slaves. It turns out the scaly fruit is kind of a health dud, and the slaves originally refused to eat it, but it eventually became a beloved part of the cuisine of the islands. It’s easy enough to cook: just roast it whole over fire (like I did) or in an oven (if that's more convenient), and cut it open. So what’s it like? Well, it looks like one of those smooth-skinned avocados blown up to several times its size, and tastes something between a banana and an artichoke. They’re kinda hard to come by — this was the fourth Nosh for which I looked in West Indian markets for breadfruit and the first time I got them — so if you happen to see it, do yourself a favor and give it a try. I doubt you’ll develop a craving, but you probably won’t hate it either.

Ice creams: Grape-nuts | Mango

Turns out Jamaica has a pretty big ice-cream culture, so for my final act before selling my machine, I whipped up a few frozen treats.

I was surprised as you probably are to learn that Grape-nuts ice cream is one of the most beloved flavors in Jamaica. (Weirdly, it also is in Maine.) I can see why: there’s something about how the malt plays off the sweet and cream, and the crunch in contrast with the soft, that’s just really delightful. The mango ice cream, with a squeeze of lime, was pretty alright too, though I think the chunks of fruit were too big and got kinda icy.

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. And as we've seen time and again, where cultures collide, so do their foods, so it's no surprise that Guyanese food has an intense Indian influence.

Joining us for this week's adventure: Rachel, Eunice, Sarah-Doe, Xindi, Erin, and Valerie! (Also, notice how we've finally put up our scratch-up map in our no-longer-very-new place.)

Limewash | Recipe

It's essentially the lime equivalent of a lemonade, but with small and awesome improvement: a splash of vanilla! That little bit of depth and perfume takes a bit of the edge off the sourness, while also complementing the floral notes of the lime. I also got a bit more depth by using demerara sugar — named after a former Dutch colony that's now part of present-day Guyana — which is a crystallized brown sugar, meaning it's got much of the minerally and tasty molasses from the cane. (You could use the similar, but more finely-grained, turbinado or "sugar in the raw" instead with the same result.) Goes great on its own, or with rum!

Tamarind balls | Recipe

The word tamarind comes from the Arabic tamr hindi, meaning "date of India." They are indeed somewhat like dates in that they're a dark, rich, pitted fruit that grows on a tree and can last a good long while. But tamarind is a whole lot more tart. Sometimes it's used as a savory ingredient, such as in pad thai, and often it's sweetened up, when it's served as a juice. This recipe splits the difference, mixing a in whole lot of sugar (again I used demerara) but also raw garlic and chili, making for a puckery, sweet, intense flavor explosion. It's hard to eat too much of this at once, but even a small bite makes your mouth water, so it's an ideal amuse-bouche.

Fry channa | Crispy chickpeas | Recipe

After fry-tastic Haiti, I wasn't up for plunging more things in hot oil this week, and accordingly we missed out on a wide variety of Guyanese treats, notably a split-pea fritter called pholourie. While there's no way to fake a fritter, fortunately one of the several bloggers offers a fantastic substitute for another dish, fried chickpeas. It's really extremely simple, you just soak them overnight, drain and dry them, add a few spices and a tad of oil, and bake until crispy. In color and crunchiness, they're more than a little reminiscent of CornNuts — these aren't a snack to take along when you need to silently munch. But for a super-healthy and cheap snack that keeps quite a while and is a great pairing for beer or a cocktail, I'd recommend this.

Hassar curry | Recipe

This dish is a perfect example of the blending of East Indian cooking techniques with West Indian ingredients. In this case, it's a coconut milk curry made with a respectable blend of spices you'd find in any respectable kitchen in the Subcontinent — turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, cinnamon, etc. — but the fish you'll find swimming in it is a novel one. The hassar is a catfish with an articulated shell, or what this recipe describes as an "underwater armadillo." If you don't live near a Guyanese or Trinidadian market you just won't find this fish, and while you could substitute with a catfish or tilapia, really so much of the wonder of this dish is the strangeness of the shell. The flesh itself is firmer than you'd expect for a medium-small fish, and pretty tasty although it likes to cling to the bone so it's a bit inconvenient. If you do find the fish, keep in mind that it's best served whole to each diner so they can attack it as they please, rather than trying to shell the fish before serving. Oh, also, serve it with rice to sop up all that curry; roti, as I tried, just didn't do the trick.

Pepperpot | Recipe

There are endless variations on Guyana's national dish — onions or no? one kind of meat, or a variety? is chicken reasonable or sacrilege? — the one point in common is cassareep. The product is as exotic as the name: extract of cassava, boiled with spices until it's turned thicker than molasses and about the same flavor as steak sauce, that somehow acts as a preservative that allows meat to stay for long periods at room temperature. If you can't find cassareep, then you can't make a Guyanese pepperpot. (If you can find cassava, you can make cassareep yourself, but I'll leave that as an exercise to the reader. Even I, an avid make-it-from-scratcher, bought this pre-made, as do most Guyanese.)

For meat, I went with ox tail, lamp chops, and cow feet, all cut into chunks. The recipe I followed is a more basic pepperpot, with little more than meat, spices, and cassareep. (I got the idea for pre-simmered cow feet, as well as to brown the meat, from another recipe, but that one called for onion and thyme and all sorts of fussier stuff.) I cooked it for maybe 3 or 4 hours on a low simmer the night before, left it out on the stove overnight, and re-simmered for about two hours before serving. The result was a rich, semi-sweet stew loaded with umami, that "sixth flavor" evoking protein-y meatiness. Not surprisingly, after all that cooking, the meat totally fell off the bone. I really enjoyed the flavor and texture, but due to the intensity I can't see myself craving this more than once ever few years.

Roti | Flaky flatbread | Recipe

What the Guyanese call roti would be recognizable to a modern-day Indian as a paratha, made of a bunch of flaky layers, kind of like the croissant of flatbreads. The technique actually isn't as hard as I'd feared; it's worth scrubbing through the video in the recipe to see the hardest-to-describe part of the technique, where you take rolled-out dough, generously butter it, cut a line from the center to the edge, and then roll it up into a big cone before stuffing in the ends. Then, when you roll it out again, that's how you get all those layers. So clever.

Two things I did wrong. One, I used whole-wheat flour for half of this recipe. I went with that variation because the item that's called roti in India is made more often than not with whole wheat, but I think that both in terms of flavor and texture it didn't work, tasting kind of flat and not being flaky enough. The other was that neither of the dishes I made are actually made to go with roti — curry goes with rice and a pepperpot is traditionally served with a challah-like braided bread. Oh well, it was still fun to make!

Mango achar | Green mango pickle | Recipe

This is an all-purpose accompaniment to add tartness and spice to any dish. I went through all the motions, but just didn't start it early enough. It tasted too strongly of mustard oil and the spices hadn't yet pervaded, so if you feel the urge to make this, definitely give yourself a few days' head start.

Parsad | Milk and wheat dessert | Recipe

This name is slight variation on prasad, a Hindi word referring to food that is first offered in a religious ceremony and then eaten by people. In Guyana the term has been more narrowly applied to a specific dish of a sweetened and spiced milk and wheat porridge, kind of like a more aromatic cream of wheat. After the intensity of the flavors of the meal, this mild and soothing dish made for a satisfying conclusion.

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 and West African influences — ranging from language (Kreyol is mostly French vocabulary but has strong West African grammatical influence) to cuisine to religion.

Our meal fell directly on fet gede, a Vodou celebration blending the Catholic traditions of All Souls' Day with West African-derived spirits and beliefs. To get into the mood, we made an altar with some of the traditional elements, including an offering of our own ancestors' favorite foods. The meal, while not unique to this holiday, is one that would be appropriate to the festivities, particularly because the spirits related to death love spicy food. To bring a little bit more of Port-au-Prince to Brooklyn, we turned out the lights and ate by candle, since most folks only get electricity a few hours a day, if any.

Joining us for this adventure were Lisa, Alex, Samantha, Johan, CJ, and Rachel. Alex spent a month in Haiti, whereas CJ recently lived there for a year.

Kremas | Rum cream | Recipe

The drink par excellence for fet gede is pikan, hard liquor steeped with scotch bonnets. CJ brought some that she'd made for last year's, so you can imagine how pungent it was — all you need is the tiniest sip of this truly firey water.

For the rest of our Haitian-style drinking, we drank this cordial that's pretty much the opposite — an unctuous, sweet, spiced blend — with the only part in common is the alcoholic strength, thanks to being made with overproof rum. Between the spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg) and the thickness of the liquids (condensed milk, evaporated milk, cream of coconut), this drink was quite reminiscent of eggnog, just a whole lot stronger. While all enjoyed the flavor, some found the thickness too heavy to indulge in more than a glass, but I quite happily managed to have several.

If you choose to follow this recipe, just note two things: you should use more than a quarter-cup of water to make the simple syrup, and this made two liters in total (and I only used a 750 ml bottle of rum, rather than 1L), so be prepared to give plenty of it away. Oh, and it's extremely important to look people in the eye when toasting. Goodness knows you don't want to get on the wrong side of the spirits.

Pikliz | Spicy pickled slaw | Recipe

Growing up in California, taquerias were a core part of my childhood, and at some point my dad taught me the awesome trick of picking out the carrots from amongst the pickled japaleños at the salsa bar, to get the spice infused from the surrounding peppers while also getting more of the vinegar flavor. I feel like pikliz takes this concept to a marvelous extreme, with just a few extremely hot scotch bonnet peppers seasoning a whole jar of shredded cabbage, carrots, and whatever other veggies you throw in, by bathing together in spiced vinegar. And then there's whole cloves thrown in there to add a little more exotic flavor. I threw all the vegetables through the Cuisinart's shredding disc, but next time I would probably use the thin slicer for the cabbage to keep it in larger pieces.

Pikliz is such an essential part of the cuisine that everyone who'd been to Haiti whom I told about this meal asked if I'd be making it, and there's even an expat website called So, if you're doing a Haitian meal, don't leave this out, and be sure to start this a few days in advance to let that spice from the peppers migrate over to the vegetables! And then throw it on just about everything, as there's little on the Haitian table that won't go well with some vinegary crunch-n-spice.

Tasso cabrit | Fried goat | Recipe

This was, hands down, the tastiest goat I've eaten in my life. What it's lacking in visual appeal, it way more than makes up in flavor and texture.

It started with a trip to the Fertile Crescent, where the butcher cut stew pieces of meat to order, including the super-tasty rib bits. Then to Bed-Stuy where I had to pop into a few markets to find the elusive sour orange, a green fruit with thick skin, a ton of square-ish seeds, and appropriately named flavor that's just excellent as a marinade. The night before the meal, I squeezed up the oranges, mixed with a bunch of other ingredients including lime, ground clove (there's that spice again!), hot peppers, etc.

Some recipes call for a simple vinegar marinade and then boiling with all the flavors; other call for a rich marinade and then a simple boil. I find it hard to let go of good flavors once you've got 'em, so the next afternoon I dumped the whole bowl, meat and marinade alike, into a pot, added water to cover, and then let that simmer for a good two hours or so. The recipes say to boil, but tough meat always enjoys slow heat, and my tweaks were vindicated by a really tasty and tender meat.

But wait, there's more! Once I finished frying up the plantains, I turned up the heat and threw the goat in the same oil, adding a lovely crisp to all the edges. Once served, these tasty chunks lasted approximately five minutes on the table. The only challenge was successfully navigating all the bones by candlelight!

Sauce Ti-Malice | Tomato and onion sauce | Recipe

This sauce is pretty much soupy sautéed onions with hints of other ingredients. I saw it mentioned on pretty much every site I visited, but I'm not sure I get it. The rest of the cuisine has such vibrant flavors and textures, while this came across as kinda bland and watery. Did I do something wrong?4

Diri ak pwa | Rice and beans | Recipe

Doesn't that look like an exotic, perhaps African, name for this dish? Actually, it's the Kreyol transformation du riz au pois. Highlighting one face of the large American presence in Haiti, this recipe comes by way of a missionary.

I'm fascinated by how many ways there are to cook rice and beans. This one has you boil the beans (which I'd pre-soaked), adding some coconut milk and parsley toward the end, then re-introducing the bean broth and the beans and then finally the rice, with a heavy unlidded boil and then finally a slow simmer with the lid on. It was a lot of work and required a lot of attention, which proved quite worthwhile, with a great semi-moist texture on both the rice and the beans, and a nice richness thanks to the coconut milk. (I actually made coconut milk from scratch, by cracking, prying, and shredding coconuts, adding water to the shreds, and squeezing to extract the milk. Maybe that made a difference, but it was probably hardly worth it.)

I made a whole ton of it, using a pound of little red beans and five cups of rice; three nights of leftovers later and we've still got plenty left! Fortunately, it tastes great when crisped up in the frying pan with the addition of extra veggies and some pikliz!

Banan peze | Twice-fried green plantains | Recipe

For all the fried ripe plantains I've made, this was actually the first time I've fried the unripe version. Known as tostones or patacones in Spanish, these bananes pesées — weighted-down plantains — are fried once, smashed, and fried again. I can't find confirmation online, but my suspicion is that if the edges would burn before you managed to cook it all the way through, so smashing after the heat softens it makes all part of the slice close to the surface. Or maybe it's just that more surface area means more crispiness. Anyway, yum. Even though I have a deep-fryer, I made these in a frying pan so I could get more of these flat things going at a time.

Bonbon siwo | Molasses cake | Recipe

This cake-like dessert can be pretty honestly described as a fluffy brownie, but with molasses and spices instead of chocolate. I thought it was OK, but on the dry side. (The first recipe I found called for a ridiculous four sticks of butter, whereas this one has one stick, perhaps the truth and beauty lies somewhere in between.) However, it was an excellent supporting actor for a scoop of the nutmeg ice cream left over from the Grenada meal!

Post-dinner lingering, by candlelight

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, Patrick, Linda, Sarah, and Megan. Thanks to the inevitable fall weather, it was our first indoor Nosh at this apartment. I'm glad I got all the cooking done before guests showed up, because the dining table is in the kitchen!


Like the rest of the Caribbean, rum is the main drink of Grenada. They make nutmeg syrup and even a nutmeg liqueur, but I couldn't find those, so I made some nutmeg-infused rum by smashing a few whole nutmegs and letting them sit in white rum for a few days. I threw together some ginger juice (blend ginger with lemon or lime and a bit of water, strain, add simple syrup and more water); the sorrel (aka hibiscus) juice was a bit more complex. That's all we'd had planned for mixers, but while taking our dog on a walk we ran into a sweet potato punch stand run by a Jamaican woman, who agreed that her drink would go well with what she termed "adult beverages." My favorite was half-ginger and half-sorrel, with dark rum plus a splash of the nutmeg rum.

Callaloo soup Recipe

Various spinach-like greens are used for this soup, the Grenadian version of which involves okra and some coconut cream. When I'd shopped for the DR Congo meal exactly a year prior, I'd found a green called "callaloo" at a market in Harlem. I looked for the same thing this time in Crown Heights, and couldn't. On further research, what I'd found before was probably amaranth, and that I could have used the dasheen leaves I saw everywhere and ended up using in the next recipe.

Not having seen anything called "callaloo" fresh, I bought two cans with that label -- which on further reflection were probably just canned dasheen! Be that as it may, this soup was actually, surprisingly, really tasty. The coconut cream and okra, though in small enough quantities to not overpower with flavor, made it so thick that, even after the addition of extra water, that it held a shape after being ladled out. But it was soft and had a lovely flavor of thyme and these intriguing canned greens. Though let's admit it, the salt in the cans probably helped a lot too.

Oil down Recipe

This is so indisputably the national dish that the official government website unhesitatingly declares it such. There's a logic to the weird name: throw starchy vegetables, salted meats, and dasheen leaves in a pot with coconut milk until all the oil from the milk goes down into the vegetables, i.e., there's no liquid left. It's traditionally made with breadfruit, which I've seen before in the markets but simply wasn't to be found in Crown Heights this time around, so I substituted eddoes, a root vegetable closely related to taro. That said, I was able to find the preserved pig tails, which actually added a lot of flavor (and salt!) to the pot.

I will note that this is a pretty poorly written recipe: some items in the ingredient list don't show up in the instructions, and vice versa. But it doesn't much matter, because from what I can gather this is really a "throw in what you want" sort of dish. In this case, I left out the dumplings and added half a pumpkin instead, and also put in more greens than called for.

I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting this dish to taste like, maybe sorta coconut-y with the nuttiness of root vegetables and squash, but this was different. Maybe it's the long cooking, and quite likely some of it is due to the generous dose of turmeric, but the flavor felt more like a subdued richness, almost in the direction of caramel.

Black bean and corn salad 

Lisa brought this refreshing salad of black beans, corn, onions, and tomatoes. The crunch of the vegetables and the tang of the citrus-y dressing were a nice foil for the soft, rich oil down.

Sweet potato pudding | Recipe

I really enjoyed this dish during the meal, but didn't much like the leftovers, and I just figured out why: it's a lot better warm. The aroma of the spices (including nutmeg, of course!) is released, the texture is softer, and the whole experience just more satisfying. It's a really simple recipe, just prepare all the ingredients, mix them together, and bake at medium heat (around 350) for about an hour and a half. I grated the sweet potatoes with a food processor, but maybe I should have done it by hand to get those thinner, wider shreds that a box grater provides, for an overall softer texture. And one final note: the sweet potato most commonly used in Grenada's neck of the world has a purple skin and a white interior, but I bet this would be as good if not better with the sweeter and more readily available yellow variety.

Nutmeg ice cream | Recipe

I love making frozen desserts that play on the flavors of the country we're cooking, so I was delighted to see nutmeg ice cream suggested as a Grenadian treat on several sites. The base custard of this recipe differs a bit from what I'm used to: rather than cream and milk in a 2:1 proportion, and use of yolks only, this goes for 1:1 and whole eggs. The result, made with milk and cream from the farmer's market, and nutmeg freshly grated on a Microplane, was a bit denser than my preferred texture, but held up very well when scooped directly on top of the warm pudding. Oh, and the flavor was great, a wonderful way to accent the mystery and complexity of a spice we normally don't give a second thought!

Our next meal is Haiti, which will coincide with fet gede, the Day of the Dead!