Grenada

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Greetings from Grenada, a small island nation located off the coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea. Having been the home of native Arawak and Carib peoples, followed by a succession of French and British colonial overlords, who brought with them African slaves and indentured [east] Indian laborers, Grenada is today a diverse society whose culture and cuisine we were keen to explore.

Jess, ever the hard worker, was awake early to grate a bunch of green bananas for our breakfast on Saturday morning. I helped her to peel the green bananas, which we learned is surprisingly difficult. She was making a hot Caribbean porridge along with some Grenadian cocoa tea, which is not creamy like hot chocolate.

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We had a busy morning with errands and chores, but soon I was preparing a typical Grenadian lunch of curry and dhalpuri roti (flatbread). Both recipes were from a website called the Spice Isle Café, in reference to the country’s reputation as a producer of nutmeg and mace. Here’s how it turned out:

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The curry was warm and filling, just as curry should be, but I couldn’t manage to make the roti flat enough and ended up cooking the thick patties for much longer than the prescribed 50 seconds.

Soon after lunch, we decided to “make a lime” (the local phrase for “hang out”) and checked out the Grenada episode of Geography Now.

While preparing dinner, Jess sliced up her first breadfruit—a tropical fruit whose cooked flesh has a texture similar to that of bread and supposedly tastes like a potato. When we ate the cooked breadfruit, I thought that it tasted more fruity than a potato, but the texture definitely reminded me of deliciously chewy, almost-cooked bread dough.

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She was making a traditional Grenadian recipe called oil down, the country’s national dish. She was using this vegan version of the recipe, and was also making the traditional cornmeal dumplings called spinners or sinkers. Together they made a delicious dinner!

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That evening, we watched an American film called Heartbreak Ridge (1986), starring Clint Eastwood, which gave us a dramatized look at the brief American invasion of Grenada in 1983. Although most of the film dealt with the personal lives of both the protagonist and his platoon of marines, we also learned about this how this cold-war-era military action was intended to protect American interests against the spread of communism. Here’s the original trailer:

On Sunday, after another tasty breakfast of banana porridge and cocoa tea, we watched several other films about the history and culture of Grenada, including this tourism video:

We also enjoyed a mini documentary called Twenty-Eight Feet about a Canadian man who has given up his previous life to sail around the Caribbean in a vintage sailboat.

In the afternoon, I also tried to make a batch of Grenadian ginger fudge, which I overcooked and turned into hard ginger candy:

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A sweet treat nonetheless! We saved room for some more curry at dinner.

While the weather here in Buffalo was balmy, in the mid-70s for most of the weekend, there were some aspects of life in Grenada—like the tropical 80-degree sunshine—that we could only dream about this weekend. Still, our historical and culinary adventures left us with a healthy appreciation for this small island nation at the crossroads of the Americas. Until next time, keep on liming!

–Derek

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