Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 8th 2018 Contents SUNDAY 8 APRIL, 2018 -- UWI TODAY 15
Bu alypso's Last Stand SPECIAL REPORT BY VANEISA BAKSH
Many people will tell you they have never even heard of
Bu alypso, far less tasted its meat. In Trinidad and Tobago, far
more people may have tried it than even they realise.
In the sixties, Bu alypso designer, Dr. Steve Bennett had
written that, "Ever since I can remember, bu aloes have been
slaughtered in the abattoirs and sold in the market without
discrimination as beef -- yet many Trinidadians do not realize
this fact and, if asked whether they have ever eaten bu alo meat,
would reply that they have not, although they have probably
consumed it unknowingly on several occasions."
Someone who once had a herd of Bu alypso in its heyday,
recalled its characteristics.
"It is di erent from beef, less fatty and very red in colour.
e taste is slightly milder than beef, if barbecued. It's been
twenty years since I last ate it," he said. He said that the younger
animals, and those that have been properly fed, "produce good
quality meat at a lower price than bovine animals."
In the early days, as Dr. Bennett was re ning the Bu alypso
to get more meat out of it, taste was also an important factor in
trying to persuade others of the potential for a meat industry.
In 1961, Dr. P.N. Wilson, published an article in the Journal
of the Agricultural Society of Trinidad, "Palatability of water
bu alo meat," describing tasting sessions he had conducted.
"In taste-panel studies in Trinidad, cooked joints from
three carcasses Trinidad bu alo, a crossbred steer (Jamaica-
Red/Sahiwal), and an imported carcass of a top-grade European
beef steer-were served. e 28 diners all had experience in
beef production, butchery, or catering and were not told the
sources of the various joints. All the carcasses were held in
cold storage for one week before cooking. e bu alo meat
was rated highest by 14 judges; 7 chose the European beef; 5
thought the crossbred beef the best; and 2 said that the bu alo
and crossbred were equal to or better than the European beef.
e bu alo meat received most points for color (both meat and
fat), taste, and general acceptability. ere was little di erence
noted in texture."
Dr Bennett, had written of the purpose of these tasting
sessions for the Caroni Limited Bulletin of 1964.
"To popularize this meat and unbiasedly test its acceptance,
Professor Peter Wilson of the University College of the West
Indies, some years ago, sponsored several palatability dinners.
At the rst one he invited about forty-odd people who included
several caterers from leading hotels, including those from the
Trinidad Hilton, Farrell House, Bel Air and others."
Describing a session held under similar conditions,
Bennett wrote, " e gourmets were given a card, not knowing
what meat they were eating and asked to score points according
to avor, fat, etc. e bu alo beef won hands down on all
More than y years later, even as the meat industry
never took o , the Ministry of Food Production came up with
another idea to promote the Bu alypso as an indigenous meat
to be served at top restaurants.
In 2014, Mrs Leela Rastogi, on behalf of the Ministry of
Food Production, sent some meat to Chef Joe Brown (Ja a's)
and to Chef Khalid Mohammed (Chaud), asking them to
prepare some dishes with the Bu alypso so that the public
could sample its diversity.
e "Newsday" reported that " e tasting menu on the
evening of September 26 included tartar, meat balls, sliders
(mini burgers), kebabs, BBQ style home-smoked Brisket and
It was curious timing, because at this point, the
Government's herd was already heavily infected with Brucellosis
and the numbers had fallen drastically. e Minister of Food
Production, Devant Maharaj, was interviewed by "Newsday",
telling them that "the relatively small size of the herd; between
900 and 1,200 head, means the Ministry cannot yet supply
bu alypso meat to the general population on a regular basis."
is he said was the rationale for marketing the meat to the
premium restaurants. e report went on, "Hence the decision
to "market the meat to 'premium' restaurants." Another, equally
important reason, for doing so is that the herd is "grass-fed,
organic-fed" on acreage in the Mora Valley in the Tableland
area of south Trinidad.
" is adds to the healthy component of the meat because
grass-fed bu alypso is not only a leaner red meat than beef,
it has fewer calories," Maharaj pointed out. "It's therefore a
premium meat and we have to market it as such to restaurants
with a clientele who can a ord it."
Chef Brown was noncommittal in the report, saying
that customers could call to nd out whether or not he has
I tried to reach both chefs for their assessment of
bu alypso meat. Chef Mohammed said, "I found the meat
to be good for stewing, braising, etc. but not for roasting or
grilling as it was tough."
But he would be willing to give it another shot.
"I will de nitely be interested in using it as I always prefer
to use local products where I can, and I think it will be very
interesting to our foreign and local customers," he said.
From a Rastogi family backyard barbecue lime, Bu alypso on the grill. PHOTO: GREGORY BALLY
e Bu alypso
ere are several papers, workshops and entreaties
for the establishment of a milk industry coming from
the Bu alypso. Most of it stretches back for decades,
and at the heart of most of them is the name Rastogi --
both Leela and Rajendra -- who have been passionate
advocates for developing both the milk and meat
elements of it. Now retired, Mrs. Rastogi has visited
several of the countries where the Bu alypso had been
exported and during her time at the Ministry of Food
Production she sought many ways to excite people
about the prospects.
She is a member of the steering committee which
is planning to hold a symposium on the Bu alypso
in June, mainly to discuss the current state of the
Bu alypso and the decision to eradicate the infected
herd, but also to try to revive interest in something she
calls, "potential and lost opportunity." She talks about
a visit to Columbia where a big breeder is developing
the Bu alypso Columbiano; and a visit to the World
Bu alypso Congress in Caratagena where Bu alypso
queso was on display at the expo.
Her frustration is as clear as Professor Brinsley
Samaroo's, a retired historian, who told me about the
planned symposium and their fear that the herd will
be destroyed before anyone even knows what is going
on. It goes deep for him as a boy from Rio Claro who
grew up among cattle, including water bu alo. When
he went to India to study, he said, "for ve years I
drank bu alo milk."
ere are powerful emotional connections for
these two, and they have teamed up with others from
e UWI to try to raise awareness of the plight of the
bu alypso and the potential for reviving the industry.
e committee is co-chaired by Dr. Karla Georges
and Dr. Marc Driscoll from the School of Veterinary
e Planning Committee
Prof Brinsley Samaroo (Principal advisor)
Dr. Karla Georges (Chair UWI-SVM)
Ms. Akilah Stewart
Dr. Marc Driscoll
Ms. Rhonda M. omas
Dr. Adesh Ramsubhag
Mr. Douglas Bennett
Mrs. Leela Rastogi
Dr. Winthrop Harewood
Prof. Bhakthavatsalam Murali Manohar
Dr. Ayanambakkam P. Nambi
Mrs. Kristal Gosine (Secretariat)
Which Tastes Better:
BUFFALYPSO or BEEF?
Mrs. Leela Rastogi
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