OIL DOWN AND SEA MOSS
ST GEORGE'S, Grenada When it comes to enjoying the vacation pleasures of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique - from soup to nuts, it becomes quickly apparent which nut and which local soup can be counted on to draw the biggest attention.
In its repertoire of Caribbean fare, one particular soup also commands hands-down favorite status, too. Dark green in color it is callalloo (KAL-la-loo) - made from young dasheen leaves. The looks of contentment on the faces of spoon-wielding Grenadian visitors are as predictable as requests for second helpings and calls for recipes to take back home.
As The Western Hemisphere's largest nutmeg producer, it is understandable why that ingredient is liberally used in a wide range of Grenadian dishes - as flavoring for meats and vegetables, in the making of delectable jams, jellies and syrups, in cookies and cakes as well in ice creams.
Nutmeg also is used in local liquors as well. An indication of the importance of nutmeg in the Grenadian economy is the fact that it appears on the tri-island nation's coat of arms.
Taste Bud Faves
The national dish of Grenada is oil down, and the wizards of ahhs that prepare it at the bustling downtown restaurants in the capital city of St. George's or smaller villages that dot the countryside, combine salt meat, pieces of chicken, breadfruit, dumplings, Grenadian herbs, black pepper, carrots, sprigs of celery, chives and thyme, coconut milk, and often callaloo leaves for a heady mixture of a dish indisputably Grenadian.
Other Caribbean specialties of note include: pigeon peas and rice, breadfruit (brought to Grenada in 1793 by the well-known Captain Bligh), christophene (a pear-shaped, squash-like vegetable - and sea moss (a thirst-quenching beverage).
Costs for meals on Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique can be as palatable as the dishes themselves. Average price for a sumptuous three-course meal at island hotels is around US$12.
Visitors who are interested in learning about the preparation of favorite Grenadian dishes (and sampling them as well) can take advantage of special noon time luncheons recently introduced by Donnet de Freitas, owner/manager of Roydon's Guest House, in St. George's. Cost for the demonstration and lunch is US$15. Arrangements, including complimentary transportation can be made through hotel tour desks.
By Bob Helm, Helm Communications.
To get an idea about the pleasures of callalloo soup, here's a local recipe. (As an alternative to callalloo leaves use spinach.)