The New Year is finally here and everyone is breathing a sigh of relief. We have made it past the storms of 2020, and can now look ahead with immense expectation. We can make new resolutions, reach out for new goals. And of course, learn new recipes. We need something to celebrate with and food never fails. And what better dish to start with other than the Pepperpot!
About Cynthia Nelson
Cynthia Nelson, a food writer, a journalism and communications teacher, food photographer, and of course, a professed food experimentalist, shares a dinner recipe from her award-winning food memoir “Tastes Like Home” and all the memories she carries within. She also shares her trick to good meals throughout the week.
Cynthia moved to Barbados from Guyana over 20 years back, the place where she was born and breed. And she took with her all the memories she got from her time in the kitchen with her mother, who she crowns the ultimate cook and her inspiration.
“Everything I cooked came from all those years of watching my mother cook”.
Her Food Journey
Her food journey started with what transpired in her very own kitchen. The communion that was brought by food, especially in their Sunday lunches, still rings today. And that is how Tastes Like Home was born. She found herself distant from the familiar shore of Guyana, and as a letter to journal her memories, she took to writing her experiences.
“Being in the kitchen was something that you earned. I come from a family of phenomenal cooks, so the kitchen was a very guarded place and whatever was coming from there had to be good.”
Her relationship with food is experimental and exciting. With a trained palate like hers, it is not hard to see why. She has traveled all over the Caribbean trying different cuisine, from African, Spanish, and French to Chinese, Indian and Asian, which she really enjoys. Not to mention her taste for the indigenous food of the Caribbean.
Passoin for Cooking
“I cannot say that I love cooking, but I can say that I enjoy it. The word I am more comfortable with is interest. I have an exciting interest in food. And my interest in it is that communion brought by food”. She added, “I enjoy experimenting with food. Mixing things and trying out different things. I like figuring out how a dish turn out or how a different technique is applied.”
Her advice for the working mom and busy career chasers: plan ahead. Whether you follow her method of cooking your dishes on the weekend and then just savoring during the week, or just journaling what you have in mind so that you can easily prepare it during the week, we agree with Cynthia on this one.
“I cook everything during the weekend and just reheat them during the week. I am really busy and don’t have too much time to cook during the week.”
We have journaled for you one of her favorites during this season for both you and your family to savor on weekends and during the week. Pepperpot! A Guyanese dish enjoyed traditionally as late breakfast around the Christmas time. Outside the much loved and well-remembered jello and condensed milk which her mom never left out as a dessert on those treasured Sundays, pepperpot is her show stopper.
Prepare it and you will invite the Caribbean right into your home.
“For me, it is not what it is we were consuming, it is the fellowship that is taking place and everything that is happening around the food. The food is a vehicle that facilitates a conversation, that facilitates relaxation, that facilitates an opening up. And that is how I see food.”
How to Cook Pepperpot
Yield: 10 – 12 servings
2 pounds stew, round or rump beef, cleansed and cut into large pieces
1½ pounds pig-trotters (feet), cleansed (they are sold pre-cut)
1½pounds cow-heel (feet), cleaned (sold pre-cut)
1 large scotch bonnet pepper
4 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoon whole cloves
1 (4-inch) piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced in half
¾ cup cassava cassareep
1 cup West Indian brown/Demerara sugar
2 teaspoons salt
Room temperature water to cook meats
1 large pot with cover
1 wooden spoon
- Add all the ingredients to the pot along with water that covers 3-inches above all the ingredients.
- Transfer pot to stove on high heat: stir to dissolve sugar, salt and cassareep.
- Cover the pot and let it come to a roaring boil. Just before the pot comes to a boil, you will see that froths, scoop out the froth and discard.
- Reduce heat to medium and let it cook for 3 hours.
- Taste the sauce for the right balance of sugar and salt; it should err slightly more on the side of the sweet with notes of savory.
- Adjust to taste if necessary
- Shut off heat and leave the pot tightly covered.
- This dish is best served the following day after reheating, but you can certainly eat it as soon as it’s done.
- Serve with hearty, crusty, artisan-style bread
Enjoy this Caribbean recipe and share it with your friends and loved onces. Happy eating!