Hi Everyone, The woman sitting next to me on the plane from my most recent trip to Guyana remarked how amazing it was that we Guyanese have so many different things we make and eat at Christmas. That is so true. A conversation ensued about what food and drink for each of us says it is Christmas. And I realized that there is something for everyone.
If there were no Ham, Garlic Pork, Black Cake, Sorrel or Ginger Beer at Christmas, it would not bother me in the least. However, the absence of Pepperpot with accompanying homemade bread could disrupt all the peace and goodwill of the holidays. I wouldn’t necessarily miss the Pepperpot meat so much, it would be the absence of the Pepperpot’s thick dark sauce saturated with the flavour of the meats that has been cooking for days, spiced just right with Cassareep. I like to break the hearty homemade bread and press it in to the sauce to soak it up like a sponge. When it has absorbed just the right amount, laden, I’d take a big bite, sinking my teeth into the soft, sweet, and savoury laden bread, the juices coating the insides of my mouth. I close my eyes and it’s Christmas. Pepperpot was my brother, Eon’s favourite Christmas dish too. But for my sister Pat and my mom, there is no Christmas without ham.
A Guyanese dining table at Christmas is not only full of the traditional holiday food but it also represents the many culinary heritages that make up Guyana. You will find luscious curries, lavish meat dishes, sumptuous platters of rice and noodles, pies of many kinds, breads, rolls, savoury and sweet puddings, and vegetable dishes that go beyond garden salad or steamed cabbage and carrots. The bottom line is that there is something on that table for everyone.
Though Christmas is a time for togetherness, we are still permitted to feel special on an individual level because our favourite holiday dish was made just for us. It could be something that the rest of the family does not eat but it was cooked especially for you. Being together with the people you love and care about at this time of the year makes the pleasure of consuming your favourite Christmas dish or drink truly meaningful.
Taste, as I have written on several occasions, is more than a physiological activity. It is the environment, the atmosphere, the setting, and more importantly the company in which you eat and drink that contributes significantly to the taste of the food and drink we love and find so memorable.
As you gather round the table this season, take it in, take it all in and let it fill you up – not just the food but also the loved ones all around you.
It’s Christmas Eve and I know that there is much that you have to get done, so I’ll take my leave now. Have a Blessed Christmas everybody!