‘Home’ is as good of a place to start as any. I was brought up in North London, an area with a strong Indian community. As girl of mixed heritage, with a Caribbean father and an English mother, my house was always filled with the aromas of foreign cuisine. My earliest memories were of my mother with a dirty apron and pencil stuffed haphazardly into her bun, following a recipe scrawled out on the back of a beer matt of how to make “Auntie Dadi’s fried plantains”. When they inevitably turned up on my plate as soggy brown lumps resembling snails that had been crawling through the mud, mum would give up and whip a shepherd’s pie together in minutes without a cookbook in sight…This book was a staple in our home after that whenever we made Caribbean food after that!
|Blanc, Beverley Le. The Complete Caribbean Cookbook: Totally Tropical Recipes from the Paradise Islands. Edison, NJ: Chartwell, 1996. Print.|
The dish this week is “The Reggae Roast” I went to eat in my local pub in Deal, Kent called The Lighthouse. A friend of mine, Tyrone packs out the place with his infamous “Reggae Roast” there every Sunday.
Like the traditional English roast dinner, the Reggae Roast is made up of meat and vegetables with gravy.
The Reggae Roast:
Rice and Peas
Mac n’ Cheese
These amalgamations of foods are held together in their likening to the traditional English Roast dinner. This speaks volumes about how Britain’s own multiculturalism has evolved immensely over the last 50 years. In 1948 the MS Windrush set sail from Jamaica to England carrying just under 500 West Indians all hoping to make a life and living for themselves in the ‘mother land’ that was England and for decades after many more took the journey to come to a land filled with promise. After reading books such as Sam Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners and Andrea Levy’s novel Small Island the reader learns of the disparaging disappointment many West Indian men and women felt over their frosty welcome to the UK. The prejudicial force of being ‘the other’ in a country struck a debilitating chord for many West Indians. Many immigrants understood there was a tacit feeling of having to surrender your own cultural identity in order to assimilate into a British culture. With regards to food, in the early years of the Windrush generation, Caribbean spices or foods were unheard of in British menus. It relied solely on the migrants themselves to uphold traditional dishes. There was often a compromise with cuisine by mixing what you could get your hands on such as coleslaw and macaroni and adding these items into traditional English dishes.
This dish has replicated exactly that and acts as proof that even in a small seaside town in the South East of Kent, Caribbean culture has spread and mixed in with the traditional proving that time is the sole catalyst for widespread multiculturalism.
AND IT'S DELICIOUS!