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THE AL GILKES COLUMN: Tastes for gold


rhondathompson, [email protected]

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There has been so much sadness and depression in Barbados recently that it was like a blast of refreshing cool air last weekend when I shared in the euphoria enjoyed by the all-conquering Barbados culinary team at this year’s Taste Of The Caribbean competition in Puerto Rico.
To beat off and beat down some of the best chefs and mixologists (bartenders) from all over the region was something to feel really proud about and those of us who were fortunate to be there on the sidelines as supporters, experienced how Jamaican spectators must have felt at the World Games and the Olympics as Usain Bolt literally ran the competition into the ground.
Our homegrown Bajan men and women not only brought home the team gold, but were declared the best of the 11 teams competing from countries such as Puerto Rico itself, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, United States Virgin Islands, Jamaica, St Lucia, Antigua and Trinidad and Tobago.
On the flight to Puerto Rico I was very skeptical about how I was going to spend four whole days doing nothing but watching people cook food and mix drinks. As far as I was concerned, apart from condensed televisions competitions like Iron Chef, there was nothing about cooking that could be considered a spectator sport.
But let me tell you something. It reminded me of being in Germany in 2006 and seeing the best football teams in the world playing for the Confederations Cup when I watched my Bajans. They painstakingly turned raw food into dishes that were truly mouth-watering works of art and with which they romanced and seduced the taste buds of the judges to be acclaimed the best of the best in the Caribbean.
What also made the competition exciting was that Barbados was up against five of the other teams in the same room at the same time. As a result, we were able to move from position to position to progressively see how what the others were preparing compared with what our guys were doing.
Competition among the bartenders was just as gripping despite the fact that they mixed their concoctions one after the other and were limited to five minutes to get them done and presented to the judges for tasting. And they did have some showmen among them who captivated the spectators with their banter and antics.
Late Tuesday night the happiest team in the world landed back in Barbados with their medals and trophies, but the euphoria would soon be melted with the news of the Prime Minister’s illness. It, therefore, was a sigh of relief for the weekend when I opened an email from my sister Leandra with the following amusing questions, among others:
Why do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke?
Why do banks leave vault doors open and then chain the pens to the counters.
Why don’t you ever see the headline Psychic Wins Lottery?
l  Al Gilkes heads a public relations firm.

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