There are many ways to connect with a country but one of the most powerful is through its food. The components of a meal can tell you the story of a places’ geography, geology and demographic instantly and in my humble opinion, Caribbean food has felt like it was apart of an ‘underground food scene’ where recipes were secret and traditions unexplored. What was available within the mainstream only reflected a snippet of our vast and colourful culture.
Eating Caribbean food is a narrative like no other. The ingredients are a representation of shear strength, resilience and creativity. The unique recipes of each island tell the stories of our ancestors, who once lived in a time where choice was not an option and the dishes we have continued to share celebrate the way in which our culture remained rich having been displaced in such traumatic circumstances.
With a rise in consciousness amongst people of the African diaspora [individuals of African descent who do not reside in Africa], the identity of Caribbean food is positively evolving outside of the islands and many of us are taking the steps to reconnect the dots of our ancestry. Caribbean food is eclectic and diverse yet represented widely with little dimension. For so long, authentic Caribbean food has been something experienced by those who have vacationed occasionally or approached as this taboo'd culinary secret only available within the culture. Now the time has come for it to be shared by us, in the most original way possible - capturing the truest , unfeigned aspects of our food and heritage.
Over the years, I have returned to the islands many times visiting my native Montserrat as well as Jamaica, Trinidad, Tobago, Barbados, St. Lucia, Martinique, Grenada, Antigua to name a few. Every time I visited I felt so inspired and intrigued by the food landscape. I witnessed how a simple ingredient such as cornmeal dispersed off in many different directions and endless variations. It took me a while to realise that I was unconsciously reconnecting with my roots, as I was now in a space that was my home and everything I experienced growing up in the UK made sense. When I left I yearned for more. I missed the vibe, the colour and the people. It made me feel an immense sense of self and I loved it like no other. I started Caribe', firstly, because I am obsessed with cooking and I love the story that food tells. Secondly, for the love of my culture - I believe we are responsible for telling our own narrative. Our history is reflected in our eating habits and the ingredients we use. For the Caribbean, it has yet to be told in its entirety, until now. Caribe' is a voyage of discovery throughout the cuisine of the West Indies.
Pic: Marigot, Saint Martin. Credit: Adobe Stock