Oh my brother, the Grenadian Spice Cake. Belly rumbling, mouth watering, a taste of floating in space that is filled with tropical spices.
Whats for breakfast, hows bout some fishcake with home made bread, made from a concrete over with coals not gas, and to top it off a hot cup of cocoatea, ahhh yes, that will get the morning going.
Pongs: plural to the word pound
Bacu: a little person
Lugaruu: this is a character in local folklore. At night he peels his skin off, turns into a ball of fire, then sneaks into the houses of the islanders to drink their blood.
Peter: used to describe a man’s private parts
Crapo smoke you pipe: phase used to tell someone they are in trouble. A crapo/w is a frog.
Swee-drink: coke pepsi or fanta.
It was Saturday nite and de moon was covering Cockroach Place wid a eerie florescent mist. Fatcat was walking home from de beach wid some shells in he hand. Nobody on Cockroach Place liked de boy I mean he was one ah de biggest tief on de whole island. De boy was eleven years ole and weighed bout three hundred pongs, dere was a rumour dat he once eat a whole goat. Anyway, he was new in de village and he never tried to fit in wid them other children, he aunt who he lived wid was tired wid he badness. Anyhow, he stopped in front ah Lett’s shop and looked round, that dam shop was sure easy to break into it had a small window dat a Bacu could climb into. So Fatcat looked round some more to see if anybody was watching him but all he saw was de shadows that de moon made. So he walked up to the window and tried to pull it open, De dam ting won move atall, atall. Den as if a lightening bolt hit him he started looking round for a piece of wood. He walked round the shop and came back with a long piece of wood and a big smile on he face. He put de piece ah wood on de crack of de window and pulled. De window fly open and Fatcat almost scream for joy. Then like one ah dem catoon people on Yankee T.V he tiptoed up to de window and started climbing in de shop. First he pull he head through, den he shoulder and den he chest, but dat was as far as he could go de dam boy was too fat to get all de way in. He pushed heself out de window and landed on de ground like a ton ah bricks, he had to find a way to get into dat blasted shop. Den as if someone kick he in de ass, he turn and ran to he house. He aunt was sitting in de kitchen peeling corn so he sneaked by she and went into he room. He picked up a jar of Vaseline den ran back to de shop. He looked round, nobody was coming, so he took he cloths off falling a couple of times. Den he rubbed de Vaseline all over he body I tell you what; he looked like a ligaruu without its skin. Den he pulled heself up to de windowsill. He could feel he fatroles rub against de wood. Den it happened, de fat round he belly stopped going through de window, he wiggled, he kicked, he pushed but he din budge so he lay dere looking round at de shop. In de corner a small lamp was on a table. De dim light was right under de shelf wid de sweeties on it. Boy, Ah tell you what, frustration set in for so Ah mean dem sweetie was sitting dere looking at he,. English Toffee, dat sticky, sweet, mouth-watering treat. Shuga balls, coconut chips and dem Cuban rum drops Fatcat could almost tase dem. He started to wave he arms like a child just learning to swim. He was sure he heard de English Toffee laughing at him.
“You laughing, you laughing:” he said. “Ah go get you if Ah die trying.” Boy, Ah tell you, Ah tink Fatcat losing he mind he tink dem sweetie talking to “im. Anyway he tried he best to get free, but all he did was to wedge heself more. So he hung day, de thought of calling for help crossed he mind but he was fraid ah what dem people go do to ‘im. He was sure he could come up wid a story for why he hung day like a ripe mango waiting to be picked. De wind started to howl like crazy. Dust flew into de air landing on ‘im but it was not only dust that tickled he skin he felt fire ants landing on ‘im de liccle red devils all over he body. Den dey started biting ‘im and dere was noting he could do but hang dere and take it. De wind kicked up again blowing de ants off he and boy it felt real good not being stung. He turned round and found heself hanging on he back looking up at the ceiling. Dat was real uncomfortable so he turned back round on he belly. De wind was still howling outside, it was so cold he peter shank up like a rotting grapefruit. De crickets and frogs was making a whole lot ah noise like dey was laughing at him or someting. He almost called out for help again, but he knew he aunt would buss he ass if she found he hanging day. Ever since he mudder got sick, he had to live wid he mean ole aunt. Women had a real bad temper, he hated dat woman for so. So he hung day and listened to de dogs bark and de stray cats fight.
De next morning he woke up to de yard fowls and dem crowing. He felt de warm morning sun against he naked bam bam. Den he heard footsteps.
“Oh gawd, crapo smoke me pipe,” he said kicking he legs. Den de footsteps stopped by de window.
“Boy, wah you doing?” someone yelled. It was Lett heself, de damn owner ah de shop.
“Ah, Ah…” Fatcat stuttered, but Lett was screaming for so. Lett hit him on he behind, de sound echoing through de village.
“Tief, Tief. All you come and see de tief!” All de while he cuffing Fatcat on he ass.
“Oh gawd, don kill me!” Fatcat screamed.
“Kill you, Kill you? Boy Ah go cut off you liccle dick!” Lett bawled and den is when it happened, Fatcat peed heself. Lett jumped back as de yellow liquid landed on he shoes.
“Dat you Fatcat? You dead, you dead for so! And he started beating Fatcat bam bam again. By dat time a lot ah people was standing round.
“Who dat?” dey asked as Fatcat kicked he legs he big black bam bam jiggling like Jell-O.
“Is Fatcat, is Fatcat!” Lett yelled and some ah de villagers ran over and started beating Fatcat too. Den all got quiet and Fatcat heard he aunt’s voice.
“All you stop, Ah go kill de damn boy meself” and she started raining blows on him grunting like a wild animal.
“Auntie stop, auntie stop,” Fatcat screamed. Some ah de people was cursing while others was laughing dey ass off. Just when Fatcat thought he was dead for sure Charles de policeman pulled dem people off him. Dey stepped away from Fatcat some ah dem coughing and out of breath.
“Ah tell you wah we go do,” Charles said, “We go let he hang day dat go teach him a lesson.” All dem villagers started talking at once.
“Shut up, shut up!” Charles shouted. “We go make he comfortable cause we don’t want to kill ‘im just punish him real good.” Shitty de carpenter came forward.
“ Ah could build a stand to rest he legs on,” and all dem people dey say yes so Fatcat lay dere as Shitty, Lett and Charles build de stand. De people grow tired ah watching so dey left leaving he aunt standing alone.
“Ah don surprise, you is de devil, but Ah go fix you, yeah mon, Ah go fix you real good.” And she turned and walked away.
After Shitty and dem was done building de stand dey put Fatcat’s legs on it and went into de shop. Fatcat was crying like a damn baby. Dey sat dung in de shop and looked at him.
“Wah wrong wid you boy? You know we woulda catch you.” Fatcat mumbled, he eleven year ole mind going crazy dem damn sweetie was still talking to him. Outside, Fatcat heard some ah dem youngsters snickering. Charles got up and went to de door.
“You liccle scamps better go or ah go give you plenty ah licks.” Fatcat heard dem run away, damn cowards. He knew who dey was and when he got down from de window he go beat dem up real bad.
Charles came back into de shop mumbling something bout dem damn liccle ragamuffins. Den he, Lett and Shitty sat down and talked bout de younger generation and how dey does behave bad for so. Fatcat wanted to say something but he knew dey would beat him if he even smile so he just lay dere and listened. Then shitty got up and left and as he walked away Fatcat heard him whisling. Fatcat wanted to kill him, rip every dreanlock from he head. But he could not move so he hung day hate building up in him.
Bout eleven o’clock, Lett gave Fatcat something to eat. He din take it at first but he was real hungry and wolfed down de food like a prisoner who had not eaten for days. Tantie Mamie walked into de shop she looked at Fatcat den walked over to Lett. She red dress hung loose on she shoulder and Fatcat could see she bra straps. Charles rolled he eyes and sipped from de swee-drink dat Lett had given him.
Take dat child dung. is a crying shame what you doing to ‘im.” Lett walked over to she and said
“Mine you own business, is me shop he tiefing from” Fatcat felt dat she stood up for him because she knew he aunt din care.
“You cant judge people, is you selling ganja in here.” Lett looked over at Charles, De policeman din know what to do.
“Lett, boy, you better not be selling dat weed in here or Ah go put you in jail.” Den he got up and walked out de shop he not go put Lett in jail, he smoke de damn weed too. Anyway Lett looked over at Fatcat.
“You see de trouble you causing, Ah hope you happy,” Lett was mad, he was real mad. He looked at Fatcat like he wanted to wring he neck but he turned away and started weighing de shuga sitting on de counter. Tantie Mamie stomped out de shop like a mad ‘oman. After she left Fatcat lay dere and watched people come and go. None ah dem looked at him is like he was de plague or something. After a while Fatcat felt real tired but he was too afraid to say anyting.
Bout half past nine Fatcat suddenly realized that someone was standing outside.
“Fatcat, why you does tief so?” It was one of Trini’s boys Fatcat hated him for so.
“You remember de kick Ah gave you de other day?” Fatcat shouted.
“So? You cant do notton, you stick dey wid you ass hanging out.” Fatcat began to kick he legs but de boy only laugh. De hair on Fatcat’s leg raised up as de boy came closer to him den Fatcat heard him sniff.
“Fatcat, you ass stink for so,” he said den he laugh and laugh and laugh he voice faded away as some cars drove by on de road.
Lett came back bout eleven o’clock dressed in white. He white jacket was wrinkled and he pants was bout an inch too short. He white shoes looked like he din walk in de dust road to get here. Everyting matched except he had on de blackest socks you ever saw. Now what kinda fool wear black socks wid white cloths.
“Is time for de ester parade and you go be de guest ah honour.” Fatcat looked at him wondering wah de hell he talking bout. People started coming in de shop. Some ah dem gave him evil looks but he din care. He had stolen something from all ah dem. Miss Jones, she gold watch dat ting was real pretty. Salfish, he cow skin boots, Mrs. Cline de one chicken she owned, it tasted good for so. So he din care wah dey tink ah he. Fatcat could hear children laughing outside. Some ah dem was singing making up songs bout Fatcat’s bam bam.
“Everybody clap you hands come an see Fatcat’s bam bam den you better run like hell, cause he bam bam really smell.”
De shop was soon filled wid people getting ready to go to de parade. Fatcat was busy looking at de people when he felt someone pull he legs.
“Don touch me!” He yelled
“You better shut you mouth” He aunt said. Inside de shop he saw Lett scoop out some lard from a bucket. He walked out de shop and soon Fatcat felt he fingers as Lett rubbed de lard over him. Lett stopped and came back into de shop. Walked over to him and spread more lard on him Fatcat felt like a big piece of bread getting butter spread on it. He could fell Lett’s fingers squeeze between de wood and he skin. Dem damn children was still singing
“Fatcat bam bam big big big, Fatcat bam bam stink stink stink.” Fatcat kicked he legs hoping to kick one ah dem in de face. Den someone grabbed he legs and Lett shouted
“Pull!” and before he knew it Fatcat was sitting on de ground outside de shop. He sat dere naked looking at all dem people round him Charles and Shitty was standing over him. Fatcat spat at dem but dey only laughed. Boy Ah tell you, Fatcat was mad for so. Den de crowd grew quiet as dey cleared a path and he aunt walked up to him followed by a donkey. De animal was struggling wid de rope round its neck. Dat was de last straw, Fatcat charged at Shitty and Charles. He managed to give Charles a good cuff on he nose but Shitty jumped on him pinning he hands to he side.
“Leh me go, Leh me go,” he screamed as de two men picked him up and put him on de donkey.
“Boy if you keep fighting Ah go put handcuffs on you,” Fatcat din want dat so he sat on de donkey looking like a black Michilen man. Den de people stood in a line wid de children and dem in front. Fatcat looked at dey white cloths. Is as if dem people tink pure or sumting den slowly dey started marching. Fatcat was almost blinded by de reflection ah de sun on de white cloths.
Dey marched dung de dirt road creating a cloud ah dust as dey went. Fatcat wanted to jump off de donkey and run but Charles was holding he hand. Suddenly, Fatcat felt sumting hit him on de head. He rubbed he hair wid he hand den looked at it to see wah hit him. Yellow slime ran dung he fingers and dung he arm. He looked into de crowd, one ah Trinni’s sons was pointing and laughing.
“When Ah get away is me and you.” He threatened and Charles rap him behind he head. So Fatcat shut he mouth and sat dere. Some ah de people were singing hymns. All ah dat church ting does make Fatcat vex so he started singing a calypso.
“She want to whine whine whine,” he screamed at de top ah he lungs. Some ah de people looked at he real mad but dat din stop him. Some more eggs came out from de crowd and smashed against he body. Fatcat kept on singing he not shame in fact he felt like Jesus riding he donkey into Nazareth. Soon dey came to de church, de preacherman came dung de church steps and looked at Fatcat.
“Boy Ah hope you learn you lesson,” he said reaching out to Fatcat, but as he hand rested on Fatcat’s shoulder, de boy punched de preacherman in he nose. De preacherman fell backwards he bible flew into de air as he stumbled over a child and landed on he ass. De donkey became real excited and kicked its hind legs. Fatcat flew into de air and landed on de preacherman. De man’s breath gushed out ah him sounding like a car tire going flat. Den in a rage Fatcat’s aunt jumped on him and started hitting him wed she bible. De children started shouting,
“Fatcat getting licks,” Charles pull he aunt off him and grabbed Fatcat before he did more damage.
“You going to jail you liccle shit pants” Fatcat start throwing a barrage ah punches. It took bout ten men to control him and even den he still fighting. Dey drag he off kicking and screaming to de jail. Lett was holding he aunt so dat she couldn’t get to him. Tanti Mamie was trying to help de preacherman up and de children, dey follow dem all de way to de police station, when de cell door clang shut Fatcat could still hear de children singing outside
“Fatcat is a jail bird,” Fatcat sat dung on de hard bench cursing.
“All you wait and see, Ah go get me revenge.”
Each island have different names for it. On my island we called it a fruit cake, some islands call it black cake and others call it rum cake. I will leave the recipe because it is ismas. enjoy and have an irie ismas.
For the fruit:
•1 3/4 cups whole raw almonds, coarsely chopped
•1 3/4 cups dried cherries, coarsely chopped
•1 3/4 cups prunes, coarsely chopped
•1 1/2 cups dark rum, such as Myers’s, plus 4 tablespoons for brushing
•1 1/2 cups raisins, coarsely chopped
•1 1/2 cups ruby port
•1 1/4 cups currants
•3/4 cup candied orange peel, coarsely chopped
For the cake:
•3 cups all-purpose flour
•2 teaspoons kosher salt
•1 tablespoon baking powder
•1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•1/2 teaspoon ground clove
•1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
•4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
•2 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
•6 large eggs, at room temperature
•2 teaspoons vanilla extract
•3/4 cup burnt sugar syrup
For the fruit:
Combine all ingredients in a 3-quart container with a tightfitting lid and mix well. Cover tightly and store in a dark, cool, dry place for 1 week.
For the cake:
Heat the oven to 300°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans with butter; set aside.
Combine flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg in a large bowl and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps. Set aside.
Place butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and beat on medium speed until pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and return the mixer to medium speed. Add eggs one at a time, letting each mix in fully before adding the next. Add vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and return the mixer to low speed.
Add flour mixture, macerated fruit and nuts along with any unabsorbed liquid, and burnt sugar, and mix until just combined. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans (the pans will be completely full).
Bake until a cake tester comes out clean (the cake centers will be very moist), about 2 hours.
Let cool 30 minutes in the pans on a wire rack. Turn cakes out onto the rack, and brush each with 2 tablespoons dark rum. Cool completely before slicing and eating, or aging.
To age, store each cooled cake in a resealable plastic bag at room temperature for up to 2 months. A dark cupboard or pantry is ideal, but do not refrigerate, as the moisture le
Here I was eight years old, standing in the kitchen, the tropical sun blazing through the open back door. Mommy Charles stood over a bowl filled with dried fruit. On the counter was a bottle of wine, a bottle of brandy and a bottle of rum. I watched as she pours the liquor into the bowl and stirred, slowly the liquor and the fruit blended, creating a fruity alcohol scent through the house. Now for the next month, I had to walk around this house with the scent of fruit and liquor everywhere, anticipating Christmas night when Mommy Charles will bake the cake. One day, I walked by the cupboard where she had stored the mix, I stopped, looked around, I told myself, just one taste, just one. I opened the cupboard door, someone moved in the backyard. I closed the door and walked to the window and looked out. A dog walked out of the bushes. I went back to the cupboard and opened the door, closed my eyes and inhaled. I got a spoon from the drawer scooped a spoonful from the bowl. Ahhh that rummy taste, that fruit, the burn. Before I knew it I had eaten ten spoonfulls. I staggered back, my stomach churning, my head spinning. Oh brother, I should not have done that. IU sat down, the room spun like the hand made top I made few days earlier. I got up, stumbled to my bedroom and flopped onto the bed. The next thing I remembered was Mommy Charles shaking me away. I felt like Santa’s helpers were building toys in my head. I did not tell Mommy Charles what I did and she never found out either. That woman would have been real vexed if she knew.