Gas stoves? Some West Berbicians not trading in mud ovens

Although times have changed with persons baking in gas ovens, some in West Berbice are still up keeping the tradition of baking their Christmas cake in a mud oven owned by someone in the village.

With just a few coconut shells to get the fire going, the residents see it as a way of saving money.

They also said the oven saves time because it can accommodate a lot more cake at one time.

Collette Thom of Number 4 Village is accustomed to baking for almost everyone in the village. Persons would mix their cakes at home and take them to her, or they would choose to do the mixing by hand at her place.

One week ago she started baking every day for villagers, from early in the morning around 8 am to around 8 pm. She baked almost 10 pounds of cake one day for herself and for the other women in the village.

Collette (right) and her daughter Molly light the oven as Sharon and Geeta assist to mix the cake

No fee is charged for the services of using the oven and the women just have to take their coconut shells, along with the ingredients for the cake.

Collette who also makes large orders of dhall puri almost daily said when the work gets tough on her she can always count on her friends, Sharon and Geeta who live nearby.

Sharon is also involved in making barbecue for persons who provide the chicken and other ingredients, at a cost of $60 per piece.

Although she was busy for the holidays she still found the time to help Collette.

There is also a lot of co-operation with other women in the village, according to Collette.

Preparing the pans for the cake. From left: Geeta, Collette, Sharon and Molly

She mentioned that she had a lot of gooseberries and five-fingers on her trees and she used them to make the ‘fruits’ for the black cake.

Edwarda Vossey shows off her new mud oven

She shared the ‘fruits’ with the other women who joined with her to purchase the 50 pounds of sugar required.

Over at Number 8 Village, the Melville family also provides a free service to residents of baking in their mud oven.

About one week before the holidays many residents showed up there to bake with their pre-mixed cake and coconut shells.

At Number 9 Village, Edwarda Vossey recently made a small mud oven in her yard with the help of her sister, Coretta to bake her Christmas cake.

She too was planning to allow residents to bake in her oven.

She recalled that in previous years, she would pre-mix the cake and take it to bake in a bigger mud oven belonging to a resident in another section of the village.

It helped her to reduce her expenses but it would be more convenient now for her to “stay home and bake because you could push in your cake in the oven and go and do something else.”

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