Hi Everyone, We talk about life, work, relationships, and God, among other things. To be quite honest, my friend Paula and I talk about a lot of things; we always have good telephone conversations. One of the more recent conversations we had was about food. We rarely talk at length about food but the topic came up when she asked if I had eaten at one of Barbados’ more recent restaurants, Lemongrass. She was trying to think about where she should dine out for her birthday meal.
Lemongrass is a restaurant in Barbados’ most upscale shopping complex – Limegrove, situated on what we call the gold coast – St James. Paula was looking for an authentic Thai experience. Unfortunately, she was not going to get that at Lemongrass.
“I would settle for a good roadside burger, hot off the grill and juicy,” she said.
I told her, “You got to hit St Lawrence Gap then. You don’t even have to leave your car. Pull up to the guy by the place that they used to call Ship’s Inn and you’ll get your burger fix.”
She asked, “What about that new grill place at de bottom of Rendezvous Hill? You check that out yet?”
“Nah, but if you go let me know if it’s good.” I replied.
Paula: “I have a question for you. Are dairy products only made from cow’s milk?”
“Good question,” I responded. I should know that off the top of my head, but I wasn’t sure. I grabbed the iPad and Googled – ‘what are dairy products’.
Good ole Wikipedia pops up with an answer: A dairy product is food produced from the milk of mammals.
Me: “No, dairy products come from the milk of mammals – cows, goats, sheep, horses, camels. Why?”
“I’ve stopped having any dairy products from cows so I wanted to know if only cow-milk products were called dairy.”
“So why you suddenly hating the cow’s milk, cheese and butter?” I asked.
“I heard that the milk has in a lot of estrogen and produces a lot of mucus and with me and my sinus and allergy problems I plan to stay away from it.”
Me Googling again: ‘cow’s milk producing mucus’.
This time, I ignore Wiki and go in search of info from sites that might have some verifiable facts. Found it! The estrogen levels in cows’ milk are high due to the cow’s stage of pregnancy when milked. The later in pregnancy a cow is, the more hormones appear in her milk. Part of the problem seems to be from modern dairy farms where cows are milked for about 300 days a year.
I crosschecked the info on a couple other sites and told Paula she was right about the estrogen levels in cow’s milk. It started me thinking about the farm that I buy my cow’s milk from weekly. Got to ask Annette and Keith (milk farmers) some questions about their milking practices.
“Listen to this though P. From what I am reading here, one of the biggest myths about cow’s milk is its ‘mucus producing’ properties. There is little to no evidence that milk promotes asthma, allergies or mucus, except in sensitive individuals with a true food allergy. You don’t have any food allergies, do you?” I asked.
“No” she replied.
“Anyway,” I said, “let me know how your experiment goes.”
Paula: “Oh, something I’ve been meaning to ask you. Which supermarket I could get saffron to buy?”
I quickly respond, “saffron as in real saffron, as in the saffron threads?”
“No,” she says, “the saffron powder. And by the way, how come you never told me that fresh turmeric does be growing all over Barrrbados?!”
I laughed at the elongated ‘r’ in Barbados. “But you is a Bajan how come you doan know dah?” I asked.
“Girl, is only de other day I found out,” replies Paula.
“Yeah man, fresh turmeric grows well in Bimshire. You know y’all pepper sauce and the nice orange looking colour it has? It gets it from the turmeric.” I tell her. “You lie! I always wondered how they get the pepper sauce to have that nice colour that makes the pepper sauce almost glow.”
I tell her where to go and check for the saffron powder. “When you go to the supermarket and you check by the spice section where they have the spices whole and powdered in packets. Look for the section with the Trini products – Chief – that’s where you’ll find the saffron powder. Now don’t get confused and pick up the turmeric powder which is more yellow in colour, the saffron powder you are looking for has more of an orange tint to it.”
“You ever hear about stretch-out breadfruit?” asks Paula.
“No” I say.
Paula: “I heard some of my colleagues discussing it in the staff room the other day but I was too embarrassed to ask. You know how some people stay; they think everybody should know what they are talking about when it comes to certain things. Anyway, I mustered up the courage to ask a friend. You should see me, pen and paper in hand, ready to take notes of the process because I thinking that it must be someway in which the breadfruit is cooked, mashed and perhaps stretched.”
Man I sat upright in my chair. I wanted to hear more about this stretch out breadfruit. And like my friend Paula, I was thinking that it was a process.
“You ready for this?” asks Paula.
“Yeah” I said.
“You cut the breadfruit, cut out the middle part, peel the breadfruit, cut it lengthways into long thick slices, boil it and then drop some good butter on it and let the butter melt all over the breadfruit.” I could hear her holding back the laughter.
“So what you are saying…” I begin to ask.
“Wha I tellin you is dat because de people cut the breadfruit lengthways they call it stretch out breadfruit! Because it long, so it stretch out!” And then came the rapturous laughter at the other end of my telephone line. I too joined in. “So let me get this straight” I said, “because the breadfruit is cut lengthways it’s called stretch out breadfruit?” I asked, merely for clarification.
“I think you can also fry it with butter and call it stretch out breadfruit as long as it is cut long too” my friend explains. She continues, “Imagine the breadfruit golden and lightly brown at the edges and the flavour of the butter in which it is cooked.”
“Yesss” I whispered. “And girl that would go down good with a nice big cup of tea in my big enamel cup. Taking long draws of tea in between each mouthful of breadfruit,” I continued.
Paula, who does not like anything hot and does not drink hot beverages and asks: “How does one take a long draw of tea though?”
“Ah,” I say. “You have to have the right cup. Not them fancy dancy small fine China cups, you got to get a big cup like a big enamel cup or one oh dem big coffee mugs. The small cups, one long draw and you finish drinking the tea but with a big cup now, you sip first, right, then you take a long draw of tea, swallowing slowly. Depending on the size of the cup, you would get about 3 – 5 long drinks.” I could imagine her shaking her head.
Paula says excitedly, “I knew there was something I was forgetting to tell you. I found this lil store on Roebuck Street that sells enamelware and I immediately thought of you. I ain’t no expert but I think you will like the stuff they have. I don’t know if the quality is up to your standard. I don’t know if it is real enamel or some other product with an enamel coating.” I placed my hand over my left breast as if to say, my heart be still.
“I, I need to go to that store Paula.”
“Yes! Let’s plan a day soon to go.”
I’ll let you know how the trip to the store goes when we visit.
Paula and I were on the phone for a shameful amount of time. But it was time well spent. How about you? Do you ever have phone-food-chats?