BC B’DOS – Food for nought
TWO FRIDAYS AGO was World Egg Day, as all who watched the lead story on CBCTV two Thursdays ago (or read this column last Monday) would know. Last week, I mocked the decision to put World Egg Day at the top of the TV news; but I’m not anti-eggs, as today should prove.
Now I wasn’t in Barbados last week to watch the TV news. (I went to Tobago for the 11th Blue Food Festival, of which more, infra.) I couldn’t see the television news but I scanned the Bajan Press online from Scarborough on Saturday World Food Day, and couldn’t find a mention of it.
The Advocate’s editorial supported it on Friday – but that was all I could find between Trinidad, Tobago and Barbados about World Food Day.
And I thought to myself: how firetrucking West Indian, to put World Egg Day at the top of the TV news one week, and to ignore World Food Day the next.
Now, not only am I not anti-egg, I’m entirely pro-food. I edit an annual magazine published in both Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago devoted to restaurants. In both territories, the magazine’s slogan could be Will Work For Food.
I have more of an interest in food than most people, since I make my living from it. (Well, those parts that I don’t make from watching movies or offending prudes in the papers.)
Even if I was anti-egg, I’d support World Food Day. Visit the World Food Programme website (www.wfp.org ) and shock yourself with the numbers. You’ll want to take your flat screen TV off the wall and use it as a tray to serve soup to starving human beings.
The worst stat of all: women and children are hardest hit; every man on the planet should hang his head in shame.
But go into a Bajan grocery and find the local produce. By “local”, I mean West Indian, of course – but adding Matouk’s jam, Appleton rum and Grenadian nutmegs don’t remotely threaten the foreign dominance. Notice, how often the imported product is at eye level while the (sometimes superior) local version is bottom – or lower – shelved. Work out what percentage West Indian produce is of shelfstock; you may need a calculator that goes to 11 decimal places.
Our history – which remains ours, no matter whom we blame for it, and remains our challenge to confront and overcome – has bred deep in all of us, no matter which side of the whip we were on, shame of and contempt for the land. It’s easy to understand that. We prefer French fries to breadfruit.
Without learning to love the land we hate and returning to it, though, we’re spinning top in mud, as they say in Trinidad. I was in Tobago yesterday, in Bloody Bay, an hour’s drive from Scarborough over mountain roads, to cover the 11th annual Blue Food Festival, a community culinary event built entirely on the ground provision dasheen.
I ate everything from dasheen sponge cake to dasheen chow mein. And, in the dasheen pone alone, I tasted more hope for West Indian independence than in the entire cereal aisle at Big B.
• BC Pires will work for food.