Ohhh what oh what could Mommy Charles be planning for lunch. This island boi was real hungry. I heard her in the kitchen, the pots clanging, the knives, pot spoon and bowls hitting the kitchen counter as she prepare. Oh man the excitement. You would think as much as I love to eat I would a least have some meat on my bones, but noooo, I was a real skinny kid who would be swept away in a strong wind. Yes man, food was my addiction, especially when Mommy Charles cooked. Sitting in my room, listening to her every move was just as exciting as sitting at the table wolfing down whatever she cooked. What was more exciting is when she called me to the kitchen to help, here I was only eight years old helping mommy Charles create a culinary masterpiece. I see rice, seasoned chicken, cucumbers, Lettuce, tomatoes, I know, I know exactly what was brewing. A good old Pelau, oh yes, rice cooked with chicken and browned to a golden colour. Pepper, all kinds of seasoning and the vegetable as a side dish. Oh man, the best Saturday eating.
I stood in the kitchen looking down at the bowl of seasoned fish. It was just yesterday I was sitting in the veranda watching some butterflies fluttering around the rose bushes when I heard the fish vender yelling, “Get yuh balahuuu buyers!!” I jumped up and ran to back of the house where Mommy Charles was washing clothes. “De fish lady outside Mamie.” I said. Mommy Charles went into her room and came back with two dollars. “Tell her to give yuh two dollars worth.” She said handing me two pale red crumpled dollar bills. I took them and ran off, out the front door, down the street. I was half way down the road when the jagged edges of the gravel covered rode bit into my feet. Damn I forgot to put on my slippers. I stopped and listened for the vender, she had not yelled in a few minutes. I heard the chatter of people on a side street to my right and turned in that direction. There she was, a bamboo basket perched on a red turban on her head. A group of people surrounded her, some holding dollar bills screaming what they wanted. I took off, hoping to get there before all the fish was gone. Before I got to her I started shouting, “Two dollars worth, two dollars worth!” I knew if Mommy Charles knew I was acting like that she would be less than please, but damn it I wanted some fish. The fisherwoman smiled as I ran in my skinny arms flailing over my head. She sat the basket down and turned to me. I looked into the basket expecting to see flying fish but instead I saw Jacks, one of my favorite. The woman dug into he basket with both hands and motioned for me to hold out the plastic back I hand in my hand. She dumped the fish in it and I was about to close the bag when she smiled and motioned with my head to keep it opened. She picked another handful and dumped it into the bag, the silver, black and gray fish sparkled in the sunlight. I gave her the two dollars and thanked her and turned and ran back to the house. Now to sit and watch Mommy Charles do her magic before she fried up the Jacks.
Since its Saturday, your lazy day, what would top it off better than a really really splendid lunch. Hmmm, whatever will you eat. Like we say on the island, “Me no know you know” But hey that is why storyteller is here. Hmmm, How about sopme fish, ohhh yes, season overnight with onions, garlic, sweet peppers, hot peppers, thyme, celery, sage, a little rosemary, a touch of nutmeg. Oh yes, then you simmer it in a nice gravy. Yes man, this going taste real good I tell you. Hmm what you go have with it, oh yes, cook up[ some provisions, hows about some rice and peas, the peas, picked straight from your back yard. Me mouth watering already, yes man, I can smell that food all over the bloody village. Nuff, nuff, waters bubbling in the kitchen. Now, what can you drink, let me see. Oh yeah, what about some sugar cane juice, yes man, that going hit the spot for sure..
Ohhhh yes, ahhhhh, just the right taste to go with that fish. Now all is cooked, best place to eat, yes, in the back yard, under the plumb tree, with the thick leaves blocking the sun from burning you. Yes man, island living, the good old days. Soon come, soon come.
Ohhh me lawd, look at dat plate ah food, nuff, nuff ital. in dey you know. Beets, plantains, yams, I tink I see dasheen, salfish souse, figs, dumplings. Oh me lawd, ne belly growling now. Wha yuh go drink wid it nah gul? Passion fruit juice, guava juice, wait, wait, maybe some soursoup juice. Wha you cawn mek up yuh mind. Ok, ok, I go stop talking to yuh, yuh making me hungry for so. No, no, no. leh me go, I going home to cook me own lunch. Out me wey.
Christmas almost here, yeah man. I already do up me sorrell and ginger beer. I already redid me house, it look good for so. De black cake already bake. Now is just time to go shopping for more ingredients for Christmas day lunch. I tell you, I go cook up some rice and peas, calaloo, stew chicken, oh yeah and I go bake a whole chicken too. De patte done, de coconut chips done and de old man say he want some Rori, that man love up he Roti. I ready for midnight mass you know, yes, first ting, midnight mass on Christmas eve, because Jesus is the reason you know. Anyway, I hope all yuh ready you know, because before yuh know it, it go be Christmas day. Well time for me to go, I busy for so. All ah all you have a happy Christmas. Parang parang, parang parang, aprang parang, dats what he sabg.
I have not had this in years, Mommy Chales made some killer Cucu. This is what I will be making this weekend for sure.
Miss Mabel, come get you fresh fish nah, dem fisher man and dem have ah real good catch you know. Oh yes, I go make some good waters for lunch I tell you. Yes gul, I done prepare de veggies and dem, kneed up de dumplings, pick de pepper, I ready to go, just bring de fish come and hurry up.
Hear the pop pop pop ah de fire, at first, de smell of the wood burning, but then dem breadfruit and dem start to roat, and the scent fill the air, and yuh tummy start rumbling because you could almost taste it. Oh me lard, de sweet torture of anticipation, yuh mudda warning “Boi get away from de fyah, it go bun yuh,” But you cyan help it you know, Yuh want a piece ah dat roast breadfruit real bad. So yuh sneak and grabbed a piece and a couple seconds later you realize dat was a real bad idea, so now yuh prancing roiund shouting “Oh gawd, hot for so,” but them when you taste that breadfruit, you tell yuhself, the paid ah the burn was well worth it.
I think I will make a pot of Pelau. Ahhh yes, rice with chicken seasoned overnight with a little pepper. Ohhh I off to the kitchen now.
Ahhh yes, a good spot, find three big stones, put them down, now to go find wood for de fire you know. all you remember de kerosene eh? Yeah man, we go do some serious cooking. Ok time to get the vegetable and dem, Breadfruit, green figs (bananas), some dashin, oh yes lets not forget some yams. Man, hurry up kneading de dough for de dumplings nah. Yeah man, this go taste real good. Ok so all the ingredients and dem ready, get de pot nah, put all the food in it and pour some coconut milk, oh yeah this go be real irie you know. Let the pot boil a little then all the crab, yeah man they real fresh, we just got them out of de sea you know. Now, time to sit back and smell the food cooking, ah yes this is the life I tell you, this is the life.