Dark, I get up in de middle of de night to tell you bout breadfruit. This thing rest on my mind all night, I couldn’t sleep. But I must tell you ‘bout bakes, first. Yes, bakes – flour, water and sugar that you would mix up quick so and fry for tea in de morning. Girl, if you see who eating bakes nowadays, “the upper haves” de Mr. Bowrings and dem so … today we speak bout ‘de haves and de haves-not”, so dem is upper-haves.
Hear them in ‘good company’ using de Queen’s English; lips rigid like duh stiff wid cassava starch and saying: “Ou, I had buh-akes for breakfast, so nice.” You know they don’t be talking to me. Weigh des characters against de bakes and yuh know they insulting and using bakes.
One of them is dah poor great woman from my old workplace, de one who asked me “when are you going to straighten your hair and take those awful plaits out?” I can see she now, like if it did today; she face twist up with scorn like when yuh wring cassava and de cloth burst. Remember you tell me if she ask me so again “you gine step down day fuh she’ … well retribution catch she ass and de only thing that look good pon she now is braids. She start wearing them after an American celebrity visited Barbados with braided hair … real follow pattern.
You know dem so can’t offer me bakes, I wouldn’t let one cross my mout; I does call them bourgeois bakes. Dem so remind me of the politician canvassed barefooted. He was the big joke scotching like cat walking through tar. Real **** snobs, Dark, I nearly curse boh, but I know you would give me an elbow jab.
But de breadfruit, I aint fuget! You plant a sucker from Doris Bancroft and say when hard times come we can’t dead cause we can cook breadfruit stretch out and eat it wid lil’ lard oil or de butter milk dat Jack churn; or you can turn it in a mellow cou-cou wid flat ribs pon top wid de sauce swimming round reminding me of Culpepper Island. Well breadfruit big up too.
Last night on television, yes T.V., Pearson Bowen ‘big-up” breadfruit, talking bout breadfruit lasagne. I don’t like that Italian name for um, I want something more creative and local. I know if you were here it would get a fitting name.
You never see lasagne, it is macaroni flat out in sheets like de galvanise (zinc) we got up on de roof. You half cook de breadfruit, stretch out – people think it look like lasagne so, not me doh- and put it in layers in a greased dish with well-seasoned fillings in between and cheese pon top and yuh bake it. Fillings can be pre-cooked chicken or some other meat … salt fish too… Dark, dat get big up too and it dear, dear now. We so can barely buy it.
Duh mekking breadfruit chips too; like how we used to want to do de English potatoes but you say “water cheaper than lard oil, so boil dem and praise wunnah Saviour, cause wunnah got something to eat. Today, I slice up some breadfruit; marinate it in a mixture of thyme (I like thyme bad … I would put it in cake), black pepper and salt and fried them. Real sweet, girl! If you did ever taste dem you would fuget dat water cheaper than lard oil.
Breadfruit gone up de ladder real high; duh even mekking wine wid it, too and no body whispering it name now. People even selling breadfruit all about but we giving them away ‘cause you always say de tree plant to stop people from starving and though I would mind seeing yuh, I don’t want yuh to haunt me.
Now I talking about food, I real sorry fuh all de things I store up in my mind on Sundays bout you when we had no meat to put on de food, not even a sheep head from muh uncle. You would cook de rice and sit down waiting. “Jack gone up by de sea, he gine bring de flesh,” you always said with confidence.
Muh daddy would come down with fish, whelks, lobsters or crabs. You would make a licking sauce and I would sit down and eat but I hold you in my mind though de food was sweet, sweet. Cause on Sunday evenings before Sunday School when we jumping graves de other children used to talk bout drumsticks (chicken legs), lamb and pork. My mouth used to water and I would feel bad and get vex wid you … cause we had whelks, lobster, crab or sea-beef sauce or a mixture of all dem. One day I say I had whelks and de children laugh. Remember, I did come home and tell you and you say, “Praise God fuh what you get; and don’t mind dem, dis time nothing ain’t cross some of dem mouth.”
Wait, I know why I can’t sleep. I drink coffee tea, as you call it. Nowadays we only call it coffee though and I don’t strain de grounds through my teeth. I drink fancy coffee like decaf and sometimes it flavour with mocha or de peppermint that I used to drink for belly hurt.
Wait, hear dis. Remember bush tea from clammy cherry, boufolk, sercee, soursop, cure-for-all and so on … companies from all over de world making millions off bush tea. They putting bush in tiny bags hanging on strings, packing dem in a small purtty box with an expensive price tag. See de white people, de rich people and de upper-haves at hotels sipping, girl; TV people waxing bout bush tea virtues.
You had a good life; we eat and drink muff things de great people got on de menu, now; we think we did poor. We din poor, we did rich food wise but most of all love wise.