Monday, October 11

Lesson in West Indian Cooking

I drove down the bumpy dirt road in the Jeep Saturday to attend my first of hopefully many cooking lessons from my favorite St. Lucian woman, Christiana. Elsa loving received her middle name from Christiana who also goes by Chris. If you have never met someone from St. Lucia, you should. I have never met kinder people and any time I spend with George's parents always reminds me of this. 

In my time home with Nyah and Elsa I have tried to make a conscious effort to be more domestic. I find it really rewarding to take care of my family and a major part of taking care of a family is feeding them. If I am going to feed them I want to feed them good stuff.  George's favorite foods are without a doubt those cooked by his mom so I decided it was about time I learned from the best. I have very little cooking knowledge as my parents were making every effort when I was growing up to provide a better life for us and I was unfortunately not wise enough to learn from the women in my family who came before me, who hold our secret family recipes. Honestly, when George and I met I couldn't cook anything. George and I always laugh that I will be cooking like a West Indian as opposed to a Hoosier when I am finished. Luckily, I love the traditional food the people of St. Croix eat so I was more than happy to learn how it all comes together.

The day with my soon to be mother in law began with a good lesson in cooking rice (no, I cannot make rice and it's not pretty when I try) followed by a lesson making stewed goat, one of George and now Nyah's favorites.  I know, the things we do for love. Stewed meat is popular here and I am so glad I was able to learn as it is super tasty and can be applied to many different dishes.

Chris begins by washing and seasoning the goat then boiling the goat the night before to remove any fat. Here she is separating the meat from the fat after the meat spent the night in the fridge. 

Next we sautéed peppers, onions, parsley, garlic and an unknown herb from her yard which she called goodete`, I am sure I am spelling this wrong. 
We also added these tasty little green peppers, also grown in their yard.  
Next we added the goat to the veggies, followed by burnt brown sugar mixed with water to give the goat a nice dark color. I must admit, this was the last ingredient I ever thought went into the dish. Color is an important element when cooking with Chris. 
We then added some water and let the pot simmer on low. Finally we added some young papaya, again from their yard, to help soften the meat along with some tomato sauce. Check out this tree.
This dish then simmered on low during the afternoon of cooking and our wonderful conversations about family and Chris's days growing up in St. Lucia, cooking on coal pots, peeling her own rice, walks home from school for lunch, life with no refrigerator and cooking with her family. Here is the finished goat. Yes, the bones remain.
She also taught me how to  make beans to put over the rice, one of my favorites, salmon and a special blend of seasonings she uses which she blends together in the blender then adds to dishes when some seasoning is needed. 

She finally taught me how to prepare breadfruit, which of course is grown in their yard. Breadfruit is what is referred to as a provision here and is a like nothing I have tasted before, the consistency of which is somewhere between foam and a potato. Horrible description but a really tasty fruit.

Here is the breadfruit after being boiled in salty water, peeled and the center removed.
The feast that followed the hours in the kitchen was well worth the work. Everyone indulged, smiled, sweated a little and ate too much. 

This was one of the best days I have had in a while and I hope there are many more cooking lessons to come so maybe someday our girls rave that their mom's cooking is da best!


  1. That's awesome, Suz. I am so glad that you get to learn from the best. All of that looks interesting, but also very tasty. I love that they get all of their vegetables and fruits from their backyard. Wouldn't it be awesome if we could have some of that goodness in our backyard?

  2. Yes, it would be awesome. Someday Nik, someday.

  3. Suzanne, when I think of all of the ways you have been blessed, I count Chris as one of them. I am so happy that you are learning everything there is to learn from such a wonderful woman and enjoying her company so!!!


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