I love food! All types of food and its full spectrum of flavours, textures and colours. Having travelled to various parts of the world and met people from every continent; I have had the opportunity to taste a wide variety of dishes particularly traditional dishes from all around the world. Of all of those the meal I loved the most was one I helped to cook whilst learning to make Jamaican food from the best Caribbean chef in the world, Mrs Katherine Planter; affectionately known as Mum.
I met Mum Planter in Bristol, UK during my final year at law school. She was the mother of my pastor and was like a mother / grandmother to us all. She took me under her wing, taught me how to make Caribbean dishes from steam cabbage, fried fish and oxtail, to plantain, aki & salt fish and callaloo. Some of my best memories of Bristol were made right there in her kitchen spending time with her. One never refused an invitation to Sunday lunch at Mum's house!
On the day of the meal in question, Mum was teaching me how to make steamed cabbage, my very first lesson. I didn't think there would be much to it but boy was I wrong! We fried bacon, onion and tomatoes. Added garlic and spices and then the cabbage...Mmmm it was heavenly and unlike any cabbage I had ever had. I was so excited about sampling the finished product and as I went to set the table, Mum made the rice.
I must tell you at this point about my then 'hate hate' relationship with kidney beans. I remember my first interaction with kidney beans was as a child in our family home in Mount Pleasant, Harare. My mother used to make a kidney beans stew which involved boiling the beans for hours until the smell fill the house and started to escape into the garden invading my hiding place. I despised the smell and therefore the beans and convinced myself I was allergic. When it was dinner time I would scream and shout and carry on until I was allowed to have rice and milk instead.
Back to Mum's kitchen. When the rice was cooked she served the meal and gave me rice and peas with my steamed cabbage. Now if you know your Caribbean cuisine, you know that rice and peas is not made with peas at all, it is made with kidney beans! I told her that I was allergic to kidney beans and gave her my childhood story. After hearing it she told me to stop being silly, sat me down and ordered me to eat! Lo and behold I wasn't allergic after all! In fact, I couldn't smell the beans and they tasted fantastic in the rice with the spices she used. Coupled with the steamed cabbage it was amazing! I really enjoyed it and had a second helping!
I took these images in Bristol outside a Jamaican restaurant in St. Pauls.
The aromas coming from the kitchen made your mouth water from the street!