Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 8th 2014 Contents A12
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, December 8, 2014
My name is
Danielle de Leon
and I m publishing
a cookbook on the
food of Trinidad &
Tobago that starts
5000 years before
John, Donne, Blake,
Byron, these were
my friends. These
are the people I
grew up with in a
bamboo patch near to a stream in Petit Valley. My
brother wrote to me: "When you were small, I d see
you reading in a bamboo patch and there would be
tears in your eyes."
I was getting a piano on the day of the terrible
flood in Valley in 63 and thank God they didn t
deliver it: everything was covered in mud, everything
was lost. My parents tried to protect us from the
enormity of their loss. I think that s bad. You should
tell your children. Chinese do it.
When the Diego Martin highway was built, it ran
right through our house. That U-turn after the big
tree, that was where our house was.
That highway didn t just dislocate communities,
it dislocated families! Families that maybe had trials
going on, that was the straw that broke the camel s
back. But our hibiscus hedge survived on the highway s
edge until about a year ago.
I describe in the book, in the introduction to my
introduction, a scene where I m pelting a stone at
a mango swinging in the wind. And that stone just
happened to cut the stem! And I caught that mango!
That started a lifetime of food.
Jesus talks privately with Judas. What he s telling
Judas: you will be reviled, hated, but, if somebody
doesn t love me enough, doesn t have enough faith,
then the prophecies can t be fulfilled. So he orders
him, didn t he, "Go and do what you have to do!"
And then everybody fell asleep and somebody cut
off the ear of the soldier and Jesus put it back on.
I believe that happened! And I believe his whole mes-
sage was of forgiveness.
I believe we are all bricks of a living church. I
firmly believe in an afterlife and that we re all con-
nected by a spiritual pool of vibration. It s amazing,
that you suddenly realise that a light vibration is
different from that of a hummingbird or that of a
stone. So the stones remain plonked on the ground
and a hummingbird can hover. And, I read it some-
where, if you squeeze me, I want honey to come out!
I don t want anything like acid and things. And that s
the faith I practise. And it s taken a lot of work to
get there, really!
Being a victim pays no dividends, darling. Some
people hold on to anger and there s a pride. Nobody
can be more angry than a bloody Scorpio, darling.
But I choose to be good. I rather be seen as the
village idiot than as its terror. I just puncture that
balloon with my thought and move on, and let them
I was in Ibiza when they filmed 2001: A Space
Odyssey and I remember thinking, I should go home
and make pizza! Because we re a flour-loving people,
because of roti. And because we love cheese! And
I never did it! And then, there was Mario s! He got
it. My cookbook is about food and Trinidad culture.
I can t seem to get away from the theme. Hopefully,
it will be out soon.
You have to start at the beginning and the Banwari
Man, 5000BC, lived here: what did he eat? And, as
you think about it, it s really one door opening into
another, along a pathway of light that is Trinidad.
Because this island is so loving.
The book is divided into chapters of who arrived
and the food they brought and shared. (UWI pro-
fessor) Pat Mohammed, wrote, "Currying Flavour."
Bridget Brereton wrote the British,
Joanne Ferreira the Portuguese, Rita
Pemberton Tobago, Michael Toussaint
about the Africans, Marie Abdullah
about the French. My instructions were:
tell me what they ate; and, from that,
I pull it and make the recipes. I have
hundreds of recipes, having done the
Hi-Lo calendar for over ten years.
The best thing about doing this
cookbook is yet to come: cooking all
A Trini is someone who can laugh
while changing all the time. And a
Trini loves to eat!
Trinidad & Tobago, to me, is so rep-
resentative of love and sorrow, of gain
and loss. It means something in my
heart that I could never leave.
Although I love Barbados.
Trinidad is cooking
TRINI TO D BONE
as told to BC Pires
Danielle de Leon
Read a longer version of this
feature at www.BCRaw.com
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