Well, well, well, what would have been for Sunday lunch when I was a kid. I heard Mommy Charles in the kitchen, she was humming again. I wanted to get up and go see what she was doing but instead, I stayed in my room and sniffed the air. Wait a second, wait a bloody second, is that seasoned chicken, hmmm, I do believe so. Looks like there is more hot pepper in it than usual. Hmmm, smells like there is a little curry in there too. Man this is going to be great as usually. I wonder what next she doing. I heard the pot clanking, the spoon hitting the kitchen counter. Then I heard a cracking sound, I thought, hmm what could that be? After the second crack, I knew exactly what it was, corn. Man, I was intrigued now, what was Mommy Charles up to. I heard the crumple of a brown paper bag opening, the quiet thud of flour falling into a pan. Ohhh could that be the beginnings of dumpling. A few seconds later I know I was right as I heard the pan scrape across the counter as she kneaded the flour. Then I heard the chopping of tomatoes and the bubbling of water in the pot. Still I tried to figure out what she was cooking. The scent floated from the kitchen throughout the house and into my room. The quiet Sunday was interrupted by my stomach rumbling. I got up walked through the drawing room and peeped into the kitchen, Mommy Charles was not in there. I looked at the pot, steam and aroma bellowed out of it. I looked around making sure I was alone, after all I was too young to mess with a hot pot. I tip toed into the kitchen, stood looking down at the pot on the coal pot. Without thinking I picked up the cover, ohhh what I saw was so enticing, it was a chicken soup, one of my favorite meals. Ohhh yes, there was corn, dumplings, chicken, dashin, and some tanyas floating in there, and of course I could smell the butter. And the smell was so intoxication I almost fell over like the village drunk. I was so engrossed with the food I did not pay attention to my burning finger. I screamed and dropped the pot cover. Immediately Mommy Charles said. “Andy, you not interfering with the pot of food are you?” “No mamie.” I said dancing around and waving my hand in the air. I found a kitchen towel, picked up the hot cover and recovered the pot. That scent made me forget my burning fingers. I walked back towards my room, stopped to snag a banana from the dining room table, after all, that damn cooking made me hungry. Thus was the magic of Mommy Charles cooking.
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.
As I sit here in the mountains of West Virginia, I day dream about the tropical sun, but more so, I day dream about a tropical lunch. Ohh yes, calaloo, with a dash of pepper, the best provisions, yams, tanya, ohhh and don’t forget the macaroni pie and the best part of the meal, the stewed chicken. Seasoned with thyme, onions, garlic, rosemary, sage, and oh yes, more pepper. Let that chicken simmer down with a dash of olive oil. It is a explosion of taste that will put in in a virtual state of euphoria.
Ohhh how I would like a lunch like this one. Rich, tomatoes, chicken, vegies, ohhh a complete meal.
All ah dat vegetable,, wid some dumplings and tomatoes, and breadfruit, man me just got real hungry you know, so instead of writing, I go go to de kitchen and cook up some ah dis ital.
Nice and quiet, right before the hustle and bustle of commerce begins. The fruit and vegetable venders haggling over prices, the mini bus drivers shouting for passengers to favour their bus, the taxi drivers trying to get tourists to take a ride with them, the school children trying to get to classes, the sound of the church bells signaling the hour, loud soca music from all the mini busses. Oh yes, soon the busy hour starts, well busy hour for island life.
Neighbourooooo, you don smell de pot bubbling, de boi dem cook arready you know. Dem done clean de calaloo, cut up de vegetable dem, found wood for the fire, and now de pot bubbling for so. Yeah mon, we go eat real good today,
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.
I used to do it with chicken or seafood.
There we stand in the market square, my mother , my brother and I, the tropical sun beating down, the venders haggled with shoppers, their stands packed with mangos, plumps, sugar apples, bananas, yams, dashins, eddos, cabbage, lettuce. It was Saturday, market day. Slowly the sun began to play hide and seek with a dark cloud, the air grew still but the voices of the venders haggled on. Then without warning, the clouds spat, bucket a drop, as my mother would say. She gathered my brother and I, herded us under her flowing floral skirt and dashed for the building in the middle of the market square. She was soaking wet, but my brother and I was dry and comfortable.