Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 15th 2015 Contents Author Sheldon G. Lutchman reflects on his
book, Traditional Caribbean Cooking:
GROWING UP in a small village called Todd's
Road, in the central part of Trinidad, about 15
minutes from the main town, Chaguanas, we
never had the luxury of fine dining or expen-
sive food. My immediate family comprised six
siblings and my mom, who therefore had to
be very creative where food was concerned.
The making of a meal was challenging in the
best of times.
My mother's ability to make the most of basic
traditional foods, such as rice and bhagi or
callaloo bush, or sometimes saltfish and
dumplings, saw us through these difficult
My siblings and I would look forward to every
fruit which came into season. For six to eight
months a year we had an abundance of vari-
ous fruits with which we supplemented our
daily diet. Fresh, delicious mangoes, oranges,
sugar cane and guavas were some of my fa-
vorites back then.
There was also an abundance of coconuts, be-
cause of a few trees which we had at the back
of our simple wooden home. These coconuts
were used by my mother and granny in more
ways than one could imagine. Coconuts are
truly amazing; there are so many ways in
which they can be prepared.
I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this book,
because it afforded me the opportunity of re-
flecting on a time long past, a time when my
granny would bake bread in the "dirt oven" on
a Sunday, or on how I would look forward to
her roast bake (made in a pot) or Johnny cake,
as it is called in some islands. Remembering
how my cousins and I would sneak some of
my grandmother's coconut milk (when she
was not looking) to make homemade ice
cream, in an old wooden ice cream pail which
had to be turned manually, continue to make
me happy. Though those times may have
been difficult, they were also joyous.
With age comes wisdom. This is most evident
as I continue my research into the ingredients
and herbs I have used in this book. It is amaz-
ing that what may appear to be quite tradi-
tional vegetables like carailli or bitter melon,
can possess great medicinal values and prop-
For example, according to the website herbal-
supplement-resource.com, "Apart from the
fruit and the leaves being used in beans or
soups for producing a bitter or sour flavor, the
American natives for a long time used carailli,
or bitter melon, as a treatment for diabetes, to
prevent measles and hepatitis, and also to get
rid of worms and parasites. Topical applica-
tions are used for healing wounds."
The two southernmost islands in the
Caribbean are packed with attractions
catering to all kinds of visitors, whether
ecotourist, partygoer, history buff, activity
seeker or a beach lover.
The annual Carnival in Port of Spain, is an
explosion of music, fun and dance, to
which everyone is invited, but the town
also has its Magnificent Seven buildings --
colonial-style houses built during Spanish
and British rule in the 17th and 18th Cen-
Some stunning elements of Tobago's his-
tory can be viewed at Fort King George, an
impressively preserved British outpost.
Both islands are a birdwatcher's dream,
with rainforests, mangrove swamps and
nature reserves giving shelter to a wide
range of species.
For the adventurous visitor, there are hik-
ing and cycling trails throughout the is-
lands, taking in spectacular waterfalls and
beautiful bays. For divers, there are world-
class sites and abundant marine life.
Added to this, the tropical climate, the deli-
cious street food and a laid-back lifestyle
make both islands an unbeatable destina-
Ivor Skinner's Enchanting Trinidad & To-
bago provides a colourful introduction in
words and photographs to these exciting
| BOOKS |
As a bonus, I have included some health benefits of the ingredients and herbs
which were used in this recipe book, so enjoy each recipe without counting the
calories. However, this is not a weight-loss recipe book, nor was it my intention
that the recipes be used to diagnose or treat any illness.
The recipes are simple and easy to follow, and if some of the ingredients are new
or unfamiliar, there is a health and history glossary, and an ingredients index lo-
cated at the back of the book which lists all the ingredients for your benefit.
Happy cooking, and I hope this recipe book will bring back wonderful memories of
favorite dishes which your "granny used to make"!
Remembering how my cousins and I would
sneak some of my grandmother's coconut milk
(when she was not looking) to make home-
made ice cream, in an old wooden ice cream pail
which had to be turned manually, continue to
make me happy.
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