Friday, November 12, 2010
This is the Way We Cook!
Asina Nos ta Cushina
compiled by Jewell Fenzi
One of the greatest pleasures of traveling is enjoying the local cuisines. Cooking seems like such a straightforward human activity, yet each culture and even sub-culture has found food to prepare and a way to prepare and even eat it which is completely original and unique and just as amazing and enjoyable as every other culture's and even sub-culture's cuisine.
Isn't that amazing?
I mean the multiplicity of wonderful cuisines, not the really long sentence.
So isn't that at least part of why you travel? I mean, there are some people who go to Italy and eat at McDonalds, but don't you eat Italian? And there are some people who go to France and eat at Taco Bell, but don't you wallow in French? And there are some who go to Japan and camp out every mealtime at Kentucky Fried Chicken, but don't you seek out authentic Japanese?
I know you do.
So why is it, I ask you, that people regularly travel to the islands of the Caribbean, and proceed to dine in restaurants that feature... Italian, French, and Japanese cuisines? (Not to mention McDonalds, Taco Bell, and Kentucky Fried Chicken.) But they do. In droves. And it's not to say that the Italian, French, and Japanese restaurants in the Caribbean aren't great -- they are (I guess). But, you know, you can eat great Italian, French, and Japanese cuisine back where you live, in the great United States of America. So why wouldn't you indulge in an exquisite cuisine that you probably can't get back home, that's right at your fingertips: Caribbean cuisine!
But it seems hardly anyone does. To be fair, part of the problem seems to be in the marketing: Local Caribbean cuisines are swept under the rugs, like an embarrassing mother-in-law who drinks and wears housecoats all day, while top-notch Italian, French, and Japanese chefs are drawn to the Caribbean by the big tourist bucks. But, to be even fairer than fair, the fact is that native Caribbean cuisine is the equal of any in the world. It just gets shorted in the islands.
Why make a Federal case about all this? Well, we just got back from a visit to the Dutch West Indies, where as usual we ate some awesome West Indian meals, but, more important, we brought back a cookbook! A cookbook with an exclamation mark in the title! This is the Way We Cook! Subtitled, in Papiamentu, Asina Nos ta Cushina, which means "this is the way we cook." It's packed with recipes from the native cooks of Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten, as well as illustrations sketched by Helen Dovale.
And here's how this can be great for you, too: This is the Way We Cook! is available here from Amazon! You'll notice that there are a bunch of used copies available for next-to-nothing, and new copes available for prices in the $18 range. You should have this wonderful cookbook addressing this wonderful cuisine, and if the less expensive used copies are all you can afford, then that's what you need to buy. But be aware that the writer makes no money on these sales, so if you can afford it, buying a higher-priced new copy will put a couple bucks in the writer's pocket, and I'm sure would be much appreciated.
- Empana (Filled Corn-Meal Crescents)
- Callalu Soup
- Keshi Yena (Filled Cheese Shell)
- Island Curry
- Pigeon Pea Soup & Dumplings
- Coconut Milk and Coconut Rice
- Pigeon Peas & Rice