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Any Caribbean chefs/cooks out there?

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tcromwell
(@tcromwell)
New Member

I am looking for someone to help with a report I have to do. I am a senior in high school, taking culinary. I would like to send a few questions to someone experienced in caribbean cooking. If you are or know someone who might help me out I would really appreciate it. I will send you an email with a few questions, if you would fill them out and send back I would really appreciate it.

I have been to St Thomas and St John several time and love the place, people and food which is why I choose to do my senior project on the food of the Caribbean.

Justin Cromwell

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Topic starter Posted : October 26, 2009 1:04 pm
dogs31
(@dogs31)
Active Member

Justin, I've lived on St. Croix for 6 years. I'm not a pro., but love to cook. I'd be willing to help you out.

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Posted : October 26, 2009 1:56 pm
pamela
(@pamela)
Reputable Member

Same here - been here 14 years and cook almost every night. Happy to help.

Pamela
[email protected]

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Posted : October 26, 2009 4:23 pm
ms411
(@ms411)
Prominent Member

I'd be happy to answer any questions, too. I've eaten local foods on most of the Caribbean islands, and have several traditional cookbooks, and I'm an amateur cook.

[email protected]

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Posted : October 26, 2009 6:44 pm
The Islander
(@theislander)
Island Expert Admin

Not a chef but familiar with Caribbean food and also willing to help. Send an email (islander@vinow.com) or post the questions on the message board.

--Islander

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Posted : October 29, 2009 2:46 pm
STT Resident
(@stt-resident)
Island Expert

I've lived here for 25 years and have been a local restaurant owner for 14 years, would be more than happy to assist. You can email me at [email protected]

Cheers!

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Posted : October 29, 2009 11:20 pm
TomB
 TomB
(@tomb)
Prominent Member

No fair - too much knowledge out there to share in emails.

Please post the questions so we can all learn 🙂

Really - Please Post

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Posted : October 30, 2009 10:54 pm
tcromwell
(@tcromwell)
New Member

Here are the questions, I tried to keep it fairly short and to the topic of my paper. Thanks so much for the input so far!, Keep it coming.

Influences on Caribbean Cooking

1. What are a few of your favorite daily foods? (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

2. What are some seasonings you use on a regular basis?

3. Where do you think your daily foods originated from?

4. When you think of Caribbean cooking what is the first thing you think of?

5. What are some of your traditional holidays and what types of food are prepared?

6. One of my favorite items is Caribbean meat pies – I believe some call them pates - I am looking for a great recipe to share
with class?

7. What is your cooking experience? (home or professional is OK)

8. Anything you would like to add that may be of benefit?

ReplyQuote
Topic starter Posted : November 2, 2009 11:01 am
The Islander
(@theislander)
Island Expert Admin

1. What are a few of your favorite daily foods? (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Favorite... hmmm, tough one, while I like a johnny cake and baked chicken with ketchup, a conch pate, boiled fish with fungi and a good bit of lime and hot sauce, conch or whelks with rice... I also like other dishes that are not Caribbean. Here are some typical breakfast & lunch/dinner options with an emphasis on the Caribbean aspect.

Breakfast: cereal, eggs or pancakes; pretty typical American breakfast. Some Caribbean influences on breakfast come in the form of fruit, mostly things that might be growing in the yard around the house. If there are avocados - might slice that up and eat it on bread; that's a favorite. If there are figs, sugar apple or papaya - might have that with breakfast. Other fruit are eaten too; oranges, apples, kiwis etc. If you want to get an idea of fruit that are typical in back yards in the USVI take a look at two recent articles we had in the site’s monthly newsletter: What's Growing in the Backyard Part 1 and Part 2.

Lunch & Dinner: Chicken, beef, fish with sides of potatoes, rice, pasta, salad, vegetables. The chicken is often stewed (but might also be fried, baked, grilled or made in a soup) and beef might be stewed as well or baked. Within the stew there might be things like potatoes and carrots but also yam and green papaya. Another side that is popular is fried plantain. The rice might be regular white rice but more likely it will have lentils or beans mixed in. Spaghetti or macaroni might be a side, mashed potatoes too. Baked macaroni is pretty popular here in St. Thomas. Fish might be fried, boiled, baked or grilled. Add a little lime and hot sauce on top of the fish - yum. The pot fish are often cooked and served whole (head, tail and all) when frying, baking or grilling. For boiled fish they are usually cut in half but the head and tail are still included. Larger fish would be cut in pieces with head and tail removed. As a side to fish you might have fungi and rice. Fungi is a side made with corn meal and usually has okra in it. Other seafood dishes include conch and whelks - these are usually sautéed with seasonings in a light sauce and served with white rice.

2. What are some seasonings you use on a regular basis?

Onions, garlic, peppers (various types: bell, hot, mild...), thyme, celery, salt, pepper, Adobo seasonings.

3. Where do you think your daily foods originated from?

If you mean where they come from literally - then most of the food in the USVI comes from the U.S. market and of course some of that is from the U.S. but some products come from other countries.

If you mean historically; like many aspects of Caribbean culture I think it’s an influence of the various people that populate the Caribbean today and that have over the centuries. The Caribbean is home to a large population of people whose ancestors are from Africa. Europeans colonized the islands and that means Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, Danish… influences on the respective islands/areas they colonized. Native Indian people were on the islands prior to the European & African arrivals. On some islands there are influences from other areas, for example in Trinidad there is a large population from or with ties to India. Each island in the Caribbean shares in the general Caribbean history; however they each have specific influences unique to them which influence culture including popular local dishes. Bringing all of this back to the USVI; the people of the USVI developed their own dishes over time. The USVI has and continues to be a place where some people from other Caribbean islands have chosen to move to – often looking for better jobs and opportunity. These people brought with them their own food/drink traditions; some of which were similar to the USVI ones but there were also differences. For example roti is a favorite in St. Thomas; it comes by way of Trinidad and India.

Wrapping up, I think Caribbean dishes devoloped largely from the shared history/people of the Caribbean region and the environment. By environemnt I mean what grows and is found here like fish and fruit, so what people living in the past, before there were large grocery stores, were able to find, grow and catch – and therefore work into their dishes. Dishes that were carried on and perhaps reworked by the next generation and then past on and that process continues today. And of course many of the non-Caribbean dishes eaten today are largely influenced by the fact that the USVI is an American territory.

4. When you think of Caribbean cooking what is the first thing you think of?

Fish.

5. What are some of your traditional holidays and what types of food are prepared?

In the USVI, we recognize U.S. Holidays plus we have local USVI holidays. The big holidays that involve food are: Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Typical dishes are turkey and ham and all the trimmings with some Caribbean additions. People that do not eat turkey or ham might still celebrate by eating together but they might have fish instead. As far as the deserts common for the holidays, while apple pie and pumpkin pie are likely to be included; there usually are tarts as well. Coconut tart and pineapple are popular. At Christmas we do have a very special traditional drink - Guavaberry Rum. There is even a song about it. You can read about it at: Guavaberry Rum - The Christmas Drink.

6. One of my favorite items is Caribbean meat pies – I believe some call them pates - I am looking for a great recipe to share with class?

Pates can be made with beef, chicken, conch, salt fish.

Meat Pate Recipe
Step I. Pastry
4 cups flour
4 level tablespoons unsalted vegetable shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup water

Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Cut in shortening with knives or pastry blender. Add water gradually to form a soft dough. Knead gently on a floured board for a few minutes. Cover and let rest for about 10 minutes. Shape into small balls, roll out and cut into size circles desired for turnovers.

Step II. Filling
1/2 lb. lean ground pork AND
1/2 lb. ground beef OR
1 lb. ground beef (omitting pork)
1 large sweet pepper
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon minced celery
1 tablespoon minced parsley
2 tablespoons margarine
1 clove garlic, crushed
Hot pepper to taste (optional)
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon Oregano
1 tablespoon fine bread crumbs

Sauté pork in margarine until brown, usually about 10 minutes, add beef and continue cooking another 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Cook for a few minutes longer (make sure beef is cooked, no longer pink) If filling seems very dry add a little water.

Step III. Prepare and Cook
Place filling on each circle of dough, leaving edge bare, moisten edge with water, turn over and seal meat inside dough by pressing moist edge together with fork. Fry in hot deep fat, until dough in golden brown.

7. What is your cooking experience? (home or professional is OK)

Home.

8. Anything you would like to add that may be of benefit?

Deserts and drinks are also a big part of the picture. Drinks like peanut punch, sorrel, fruit drinks like passionfruit juice. Deserts made with fruit like coconut tart. There are also some candies/deserts like Tamarind Stew and Tamarind Balls.

You might research and compare some of the popular dishes from other islands in the Caribbean to see what is similar and what is unique; for example pick some of the islands that are or were British territories, some with Spanish influence, French and so forth.

Hope that helps & good luck with your project.

--Islander

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Posted : November 5, 2009 5:30 pm
The Islander
(@theislander)
Island Expert Admin

Hey where are the other folks that said they would help out. 🙂 Dogs31, Pamela, Ms411 and STTResident... if you already replied to Tcromwell's Caribbean food questions by email maybe you could copy the answers from email and post them on the board too.

--Islander

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Posted : November 11, 2009 6:15 pm
notahippie
(@notahippie)
Estimable Member

Islander's detailed response, St. John Brewers' web cam and reggae music have officially made today the Best Day Of the Week

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Posted : November 12, 2009 10:45 am
tcromwell
(@tcromwell)
New Member

Here are the responses from Dogs31 - I hope they don't mind me adding. Thanks for the responses so far - the more the merrier, keep them coming. Islander you links are great!

1. What are a few of your favorite daily foods? (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

mangos, Caribbean lobster, mahi-mahi, chocolate

2. What are some seasonings you use on a regular basis?

Cayenne , ginger, onion, garlic, green & red peppers

3. Where do you think your daily foods originated from?

The majority of food here is shipped from the US . A lot of dairy is shipped from Europe .

4. When you think of Caribbean cooking what is the first thing you think of?

Melting pot

5. What are some of your traditional holidays and what types of food are prepared?

Christmas- ham, turkey, potato stuffing, baked mac. & cheese, callaloo(spinach-like soup), coquito(rum drink).

6. One of my favorite items is Caribbean meat pies – I believe some call them pates – do you have a favorite recipe to share to make in my demonstration? I don’t have a favorite recipe yet, I used to live close to best pate spot on St. Croix .

7. Anything you would like to add that may be of benefit? St. Croix has a huge annual agricultural fair, where many islands come with foods to buy/eat. We also have a yearly “mango melee” usually in July.

ReplyQuote
Topic starter Posted : November 12, 2009 2:02 pm
STT Resident
(@stt-resident)
Island Expert

tcromwell wrote:
Here are the questions, I tried to keep it fairly short and to the topic of my paper. Thanks so much for the input so far!, Keep it coming.

Influences on Caribbean Cooking

1. What are a few of your favorite daily foods? (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

I eat all sorts of foods but if I were simply doing "Caribbean" I would choose Goat Water (a rich mutton soup/stew with a big clove influence) and Johnny Cake for breakfast Conch with butter sauce for lunch. Stew chicken with boiled sweet potato, fried plantain and fresh steamed veggies for dinner.

2. What are some seasonings you use on a regular basis?

Garlic, garlic, garlic! Onions, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, basil, oregano, thyme (local when I can find it), mint (local variety), bay leaf (fresh from St John which I freeze whole), black pepper, my own home-made habanero-based hot sauce, loads more!

3. Where do you think your daily foods originated from?

Mostly imported from stateside. Some veggies shipped from down island. Fresh fish caught locally.

4. When you think of Caribbean cooking what is the first thing you think of?
Wonderful warm odors wafting from a kitchen - good, wholesome comfort food prepared with love.

5. What are some of your traditional holidays and what types of food are prepared?

The usual stateside holidays - and I have a great recipe I do every Thanksgiving for a West Indian Pumpkin Souflee which is to die for! Always enjoy "Old Year's" traditional gatherings on New Year's Eve day/night with kalaloo, saltfish pick-up, sweet potato pie, stew chicken, fried fish, beans and rice, boiled cassava, stew mutton, fried chicken - the whole works!
6. One of my favorite items is Caribbean meat pies – I believe some call them pates - I am looking for a great recipe to share
with class?

So many different recipes. I like the meat patés but also love the saltfish and conch. No good at giving recipes as I cook with a pinch of this and a handful of that which is impossible to translate! In any case, I've made patés rarely as I love to taste other people's cooking and they're not on my restaurant menu.

7. What is your cooking experience? (home or professional is OK)

From my mother's knee at a tender age to home and social to now professional for 14 years.

8. Anything you would like to add that may be of benefit?

Good luck with your project!

ReplyQuote
Posted : November 13, 2009 10:29 am