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.)

Adventure Guide to Grenada, St. Vincent & the Grenadines

Adventure Guide to Grenada, St. Vincent & the Grenadines

These islands lie at the southern end of the Caribbean chain, the last stronghold of the fierce Carib Indians and the last to be settled by Europeans. As a result, they are just now being discovered by tourists and are totally unspoiled. St. Vincent, with the oldest botanical garden in the Americas, is dominated by a huge volcano, its peak usually hidden in clouds. The Grenadines include Bequia, Mustigue, Mayreau and many other islands, each one a unique little gem. Here you will find the houses smothered in bougainvillea and shaded by almond trees. Grenada, with its pristine reefs and abundant natural beauty, is the source for a third of the world? s nutmeg; the smell of spices is everywhere in the air. This guide is the best preparation for a visit to these islands. Here you will full details on: The best accommodations and restaurants on every island Sailing, fishing, kayaking, diving, hiking, horseback riding Shopping, getting around, sightseeing Entertainment & gambling Currency, climate, history, business hours, medical care, banking Dive operators and the best dive sites Scenic walks The best beaches

Callallo Recipe

1/2 lb. Callaloo leaves w/stem chopped - or use Spinach as an alternative.
1 Large Onion Chopped.
1 small pinch powdered Cloves
2 Red Chili Peppers, chopped
1/2 small can Coconut Milk
1 teaspoon finely chopped Herbs
1 pint Water
1 tsp.Brown Sugar
Salt & Pepper to taste
Wash callalloo (or spinach) and place in pressure cooker. Add coconut milk, water and other ingredients. Bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Cool and blend, Return to heat, bringing gently to a boil. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cook for another 10 minutes. Serves 4.

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