Food in Guyana Overwhelming and appreciative

Hi Everyone, Every time I come back home for a visit I have to readjust my senses to the abundance of food, especially at the markets. I quickly become overwhelmed and often find myself rooted in one spot, unsure where to turn and from which stall to buy.

Let me explain.

20140607cynthia nelsonWhen I shop at the weekly markets in Barbados, there are fresh fruits, vegetables and produce but not on the scale or variety that it is available in Guyana, daily. In Barbados things are there in small to average quantities, but in Guyana there are large stacks and piles of food, and you see this repeated stall after stall. I have been living away for so long that such a sight gives me pause every single time I visit. It is not like I have forgotten the wealth of food here (in Guyana) but I have become so accustomed to seeing it in much smaller quantities, and fewer varieties, that when confronted with such a bounty of food, I feel lost. My instinct is to retreat. I feel the urge to re-group or find someone to direct me where to go.

But I don’t turn away, instead, I stay put, looking nowhere or at no one in particular, and then, without warning, my eyes are filled with water. My shoulders drop, my breaths are deep, coming from the diaphragm not the chest and that’s when it begins to spread through my body – flowing, gushing, rivulets of pride and love. A faint whisper escapes my lips, “This is the food of my home. This is the food in my home.”

 Nuff Food (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)
Nuff Food (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)

When that feeling of euphoria lifts, anxiety sets in. I start to worry for and about the vendors. I begin to wonder how they are going to get rid of all this food? Are enough people coming daily to buy the food? Are people buying in large enough quantities so that the food does not perish? Happy to play my part I’d buy something at a stall and spot the same item at another stall and head in that direction to get more, however, I am soon stopped in my tracks when my sister would give me a look (you know the look your parents used to give you when you were younger and being mischievous? That look). The look was followed by me being addressed in a playful but firm manner with one of these words, “Lady. Madam.” That’s all Pat would say and I would turn and follow her to continue with the shopping. Pat’s reaction was based on the fact that we already bought what we needed, to get more would be a waste as there is only so much that would be eaten.

One of the main highlights when I am home is going to the markets. I totally become like the proverbial kid in a candy store. My sister and I walk through the market and constantly tug at her, “Pat, look…” Understandably, her visits to the markets are business like, while for me, it is a leisurely outing.

Oh gosh, don’t talk about when I reach to the fish or meat section of the market. I want to buy everything in sight. How do you choose? One thing that is very similar to what takes place in the fish markets in Barbados is that you get called in all directions with shouts of the various fish they have on offer. It could get you bazzodee I tell you.

It is strange. When I lived in Guyana, the markets held none of this romance for me. If it takes being away from them to make me truly appreciate their value and worth, then so be it, for I will know always that there is this place, this home to which I belong, where I can return whenever I want to. A home that is always in my heart.


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