As a child, I believe the primary track I ever heard that talked about West Indian meals was Harry Belafonte singing “Jamaica Farewell,” written by Brooklyn-born Irving Burgie, identified professionally as Lord Burgess, and recorded by Belafonte in 1956. 

The lyrics include this verse:

Down on the market you’ll be able to hear

Women cry out whereas on their heads they bear

Ackee rice, saltfish are good

And the rum is ok any time of 12 months

I used to be first launched to West Indian meals once I was rising up by our Jamaican next-door neighbors in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. In case you will have by no means had saltfish, right here’s a humorous introduction to it, courtesy of three West Indian ladies from completely different nations—Bernice of Guyana, Donna of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Eustacia of Trinidad—in a aggressive style check of one another’s cooking.

The primary mother up within the video, Bernice, mentions the track “Saltfish” by the world-famous Calypsonian, The Mighty Sparrow. His web site affords a biography.

Slinger Francisco, The Mighty Sparrow, was born on July 9, 1935 in Grand Roy, Grenada and migrated to Trinidad together with his household when he was one 12 months outdated.

At 20, Mighty Sparrow arose as the highest Calypsonian together with his record-breaking hit, “Jean and Dinah.” In 1958 Sparrow grew to become the one calypsonian to earn a triple win, in the identical 12 months, within the Street March Competitors. The calypsos included “P.A.Y.E. (Pay As You Earn),” a track that allowed the residents of Trinidad and Tobago to grasp the importance of paying taxes, “Russian Satellite tv for pc,” and “Theresa,” wherein he sang in different languages.

In the course of the course of his profession, he continued to launch well-liked and influential albums with rabble-rousing lyrics and unwavering social commentary. He ultimately grew to become a cross-genre stylist, belting rock, crooning ballads, and mastering funk, soca, Christmas favorites, spirituals, and African hybrids. No different calypsonian in historical past has had such broad enchantment throughout musical classes.

Right here’s the Mighty Sparrow track Bernice paid homage to, “Saltfish.”

Like many calypso tunes, there are double meanings to the lyrics.  You’ll determine it out. 

From the lyrics

Saltfish stew is what I like
So doo-doo, give me day and evening
I such as you meals, so do not discover me impolite
My favourite, I positive each man in right here already eat it

Nothing on this planet sweeter than
English, colloquial, Bajans
It is sweeter than meat
While you wish to eat

All saltfish candy

When you’re studying to prepare dinner Cuban, Puerto Rican, or Dominican meals, a primary basis for a lot of it’s “sofrito,” which is the topic of one among Afro-Cuban Latin-jazz nice Mongo Santamaria’s most well-known tunes, “Sofrito,” which he recorded in 1976.

Mongo Santamaría (1917–2003) was a Cuban American jazz percussionist.

Ramón “Mongo” Santamaría Rodríguez was born in Havana, Cuba, in a household that valued music and their African heritage. At a younger age, Santamaría picked up the violin, however the recognition and familial affinity for rumba music led him to a musical profession in percussion. Santamaría dropped out of center faculty and taught himself maracas, bongos, conga, and timbales. In 1937, alongside Septeto Beloña and the home band, he started performing on the famend Tropicana Membership in Havana.

In 1948, Santamaría traveled to Mexico Metropolis to tour with Armando Peraza’s dance troupe. Two years later, Peraza and Santamaría moved to New York Metropolis, the place they introduced Afro-Cuban rhythms to jazz and pop music genres.

Whereas in New York, Santamaría and trumpeter Gilberto Valdés shaped the town’s first charanga band, the Black Cuban Diamond. Santamaría labored with famed bandleader Peréz Prado and later, he and Tito Puente entertained audiences with their percussion battles throughout the peak of the mambo within the Nineteen Fifties. He gained much more recognition working with Cal Tjader within the late Nineteen Fifties.

Right here’s Mongo’s “Sofrito,” which can have you dancing across the kitchen.

So after listening to “Sofrito,” maybe you’d wish to study to make it. There are a ton of Caribbean-Latino cooking channels on YouTube, chock filled with recipes and how-tos.

You’ll be able to at all times purchase premade sofrito in lots of supermarkets. Nonetheless, it’s at all times good to discover ways to make your individual. I favored this video from Chef Tito’s Workshop.

For these readers on the lookout for their subsequent cookbook, Von Diaza’s Coconuts and Collards: Recipes and Stories from Puerto Rico to the Deep South is a pleasant one so as to add to your assortment.

When her household moved from Puerto Rico to Atlanta, Von Diaz traded plantains, roast pork, and malta for grits, fried hen, and candy tea. Brimming with humor and nostalgia, Coconuts and Collards is a reci­pe-packed memoir of rising up Latina within the Deep South.  
The tales middle on the ladies in Diaz’s household who’ve used meals to nour­ish and take care of each other. When her mom—newly single and with two younger daughters—took a second job to make ends meet, Diaz taught herself to prepare dinner, getting ready meals for her sister after faculty, feeding her mom when she got here dwelling late from work. Throughout summer time visits to Puerto Rico, her grandmother guided her rediscovery of the island’s flavors and confirmed her conventional cooking methods. Years later the island referred to as her again to its heat and tropical em­brace to be comforted by its acquainted flavors.  
Impressed by her grandmother’s 1962 copy of Cocina Criolla—the Puerto Rican equiv­alent of the Pleasure of Cooking—Coconuts and Collards celebrates conventional recipes whereas fusing them with Diaz’s circle of relatives historical past and a up to date Southern aptitude. Diaz discovers the connections between the meals she grew up consuming in Atlanta and the African and indigenous influences in so many Puerto Rican dishes. The funche recipe is grits kicked up with coconut milk. White beans make the catfish corn chowder creamy and provides it a Spanish really feel. The pinchos de pollo—hen skewers—characteristic guava BBQ sauce, which doubles because the sauce for adobo-coated ribs. The pastelón is shepherd’s pie . . . with candy plantains. And the quingombo recipe could be acknowledged as stewed okra in any Southern kitchen, even whether it is laced with heat and fragrant sofrito.  

There’s, in fact, loads of Puerto Rican music to go together with these recipes. One of many world’s most well-known Puerto Rican bands, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, has been on tour celebrating their sixtieth anniversary this 12 months. Considered one of their most well-known songs about Puerto Rican meals is “El Menú.” 

RELATED: Giving thanks for food, and Chef José Andrés in Puerto Rico 

Some background on the group’s history, from All About Jazz:

El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, generally often known as El Gran Combo, is a Puerto Rican Salsa music orchestra. It’s Puerto Rico’s most profitable musical group, and one among Salsa’s most well-known recording and performing artists throughout Latin America.

Since most of the style’s legendary singers have been members of the orchestra, the band has been given the moniker La Universidad de la Salsa (The College of Salsa). El Gran Combo was based by Rafael Ithier in Might of 1962. Ithier continues to be, in 2010, the orchestra’s pianist and musical director.

Guillermo Rivera wrote about El Gran Combo’s “El Menú” for Georgia State University’s student newspaper, The Signal:

The track by the famed Puerto Rican salsa group mentions their love for various meals, corresponding to rice and beans, fried plantains and fish with a squeeze of lemon. “El Menú” invokes the sentiments somebody will get from being in a Hispanic mother’s kitchen.

“It jogs my memory of being round my mother and father as a bit child or going to the grocery store to purchase meals to prepare dinner that evening,” Arly Molina, a scholar at Georgia State, mentioned.

Odes to meals may also be used to explain a tradition. A love for meals can not directly spotlight elements of a serious tradition and remind folks of their childhood. “El Menú” does this particularly with Hispanic tradition and heritage.

“I’ve by no means met somebody who doesn’t like some kind of Hispanic meals,” Molina mentioned. “So, yeah, the track does make me pleased with my heritage as a result of it has some taste, and I believe that’s what being Hispanic is all about.”

Benefit from the studio recording of “El Menú.”

Lyrics in Spanish and English here.

On Caribbean menus, rice is a staple, like potatoes are in most U.S. houses. For the vacation, as an alternative of white rice and gravy—which I grew up with in my Black household—I’m making “arroz con gandules” (rice with pigeon peas) as a part of my Puerto Rican husband’s traditions.

RELATED: Black Music Sunday: A musical meal brings a soulful start to the holiday season

Right here’s one straightforward how-to from Mari’s Cooking channel on YouTube.

It’s time for me to head again into the kitchen to complete up my cooking, however be a part of me within the feedback to publish your favourite Caribbean recipes and music, and for the weekly Caribbean Information Roundup.

Have a tasty vacation!

As Rev. Sen. Raphael Warnock prepares for his Dec. 6 Senate runoff against Republican Herschel Walker, Warnock and the people of Georgia need all the help we can give. Click here to donate $3 or more to Team Warnock today!

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