Christmas Dishes

The following account was given by Gladys Stuart in the National Studies Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1 January, 1973:

Black cakes laden with fruit were baked weeks in advance and saturated with rum to keep them moist. The market came alive with poultry: chicken, ducks, and turkeys. The housewife’s wit was strained not to buy too soon nor too late. If she waited until too late, the commodity might be sold out or the prices might have increased. On the other hand, if she were to buy too early, she had to spend many wakeful nights protecting her birds from fowl thieves, possums, and charley prices. Some families bought a small pig. And there was a variety of game meat: deer, armadillo, and gibnut.

Then two days before Christmas the baking and cooking began. White cakes, tarts with sorrel jam, creole bread and buns were all baked in a large pot on a fire hearth. The ham was boiled, the turkey and duck were roasted, and the chicken and game meat were stewed in luscious brown gravy. And of course, the rice and beans had to be flavoured with generous bits of ham skin. Everything had to be finished by Christmas Eve night.

Vendors increased during the Christmas season to cater to out-of-town buyers. Creole bread and buns and fried fish were the most popular, followed by powder buns, trifle, and conch fritters. For those with a sweet tooth there was sweet potato pudding, stewed fruits such as papaya, pumpkin, and guava, and of course tableta, cut-up-brute, ginger lee, dumps, and strech-me-guts. Restaurants did a brisk business with cow foot soup and conch soup.

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