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A Jamerican Feast

 

This Thursday marked my seventeenth Thanksgiving fete. I’m not American by birth; I was naturalized some years back. Being partially raised in Jamaica, there were a few customs and traditions that took some time getting acclimated to when I moved to the United States. As our family transitioned into American life there were some holidays that were fully accepted and others were met with defiant avoidance. Halloween, for instance, was looked oddly upon by my parents. Only in recent years have I come to partake in the trick-or-treating (giving out candy of course) and the parties that surround the day. Thanksgiving on the other hand, signified a time for family and friends to come from near and far to partake in gluttonous indulgence. One year, we had, no-lie, seventeen people at our dinner table. This year my family of six welcomed four beloved family and friends.

 

Here you have: mac n cheese, corn bread, ox-tail, ham, turkey, plantains, curry goat, collard greens and mash potatoes

Here you have: mac n cheese, corn bread, ox-tail, ham, turkey, plantains, curry goat, collard greens and mash potatoes

 

Just like the holidays, there are American foods that I’ve wholly embraced and ones I avoid like a plague. Do I enjoy stuffing? Hardly. Then there’s the gelatinous cranberry sauce. I surmise that if the Thanksgiving staple were to disappear to food heaven no one would object. Let’s not forget pie. Seriously, how dare I call myself a southerner? Not liking pie could be categorized as treason not to mention Un-southern. In all fairness, I’ll have a nibble of say pecan pie from time to time but generally speaking I’m not a pie lover. So, instead of losing out on a bountiful set of side dishes, I’m supplied with an array of quintessential Jamaican dishes. For instance, instead of stuffing we have rice and peas (rice and beans for Americans). We love American dishes like green-bean casserole and sweet potato soufflé. The combination of both cultures intertwines into what I like to call a Jamerican Thanksgiving feast. There normally is a smorgasbord of meats like the expected turkey and ham but over the years we’ve indulged in duck, mutton (goat meat), deer, oxtail, cow’s feet to name a few.  On the menu this year was: ham, turkey, ox-tail, curry goat (mutton), green bean casserole, sweet potato soufflé, corn bread, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, collard greens, spinach salad, the list goes on, it was really a feast!

 

This is Sorrel (roselle plant) made by boiling dried sepals and calyces which is a popular drink in Jamaica.  It’s also popular in Spanish cultures known acedera.

This is Sorrel (roselle plant) made by boiling dried sepals and calyces which is a popular drink in Jamaica. It’s also popular in Spanish cultures known acedera.

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