Guyanese food

Tony Glaser tonyglaser at MINDSPRING.COM
Sun May 6 02:04:21 UTC 2001

For Barry Popik and other cooking lexicographers:

>     By Ibon Villelabeitia
>     GEORGETOWN, Guyana, May 3 (Reuters) - Calves' hooves boiled in bitter
>black sauce, salted pig tails bathed in creamy coconut milk and golden
>brown brain cakes topped with root bread.
>     In Georgetown, Guyana's graceful capital, a food-tasting experience
>can be a beguiling journey through 400 years of history that have shaped
>this isolated South American nation.


>     "Guyana's culture is mostly oral. When our dishes were put in print
>for the first time we had to decide on a way to spell them," said Magda
>Pollard, one of the authors of "What's Cooking in Guyana."
>     The book published by the Carnegie School of Home Economics in
>Georgetown attempts to capture a rich culinary tradition that features
>Indian curries, African stews, British pastries, Portuguese seasoning and
>Native American root vegetables.
>     Guyana's national dish is the pepperpot, a stew with Native American
>origins made from the soft inner part of livestock hooves -- cow, calf or
>pig heels will do -- mixed with rice and boiled in cassareep, a dark
>caramel-like juice from cassava, a native plant that is poisonous unless it
>is prepared just so.


>     The cookup, a Guyanese staple, is of African origin, invented by
>descendants of slaves brought by Dutch settlers. A successful cookup -- a
>stew of peas, rice and meat -- requires creamy coconut milk, achieved by
>grating the flesh of a coconut, mixing it with water and then squeezing it.

>     Metem-gee is another popular stew, made of curly pig tails and root
>vegetables simmered in coconut milk.

>     Indentured laborers from India who came to work on sugar plantations
>in the 19th century brought along their piquant curry. Curry dishes are
>often served with roti -- thin pancakes dipped into bowls of curried beef,
>chicken or fish.
>     And, of course, there is Guyanese black pudding, a version of Scottish
>haggis, normally served on Saturdays. To make it, you stuff a mixture of
>rice, coconut milk and pig tails into the intestines of a cow or sheep.
>     Many modern Guyanese recipes were developed in the 1970s, after the
>government banned the import of up to 100 food items, including flour and
>potatoes. The measure forced Guyanese to turn to their traditional
>ingredients and be creative, building on a culinary identity that began to
>emerge after independence from Britain in 1966.

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