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THE AL GILKES COLUMN: End of fatted calf


Al Gilkes

THE AL GILKES COLUMN: End of fatted calf

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I hope everybody had a very merry Christmas and I would also like to wish you a happy new year but based on the economic storm that is quickly approaching our shores that would be very wishful thinking.
Before every storm you are warned to stock up on essentials and that’s exactly what I did on Christmas Day. I know my friends in the medical profession, including my old school mate the now Sir Trevor Hassell, will chide me for admitting to overindulgence, but on that day I essentially stored too much food.
It’s not right to blame others for your trespasses but it was not my fault. It was that of my son the chef. What was I to do when the man turned up at the house even before I was out of bed with a truckload of traditional Christmas Day essentials and then proceeded to cook up his own storm.
Then, for the rest of the morning and into the afternoon it was he and the meats, the vegetables, the seasonings, the peppers, the knives, the blenders, the stoves, the ovens, striding from one end of the kitchen to the other chopping, mixing, carving, stirring, pouring, draining, tasting.
At his level, his is a skill for which words fail me to adequately describe particularly because of the fact that he would have inherited the cooking gene from my father on my side and from his grandmother on his mother’s side. Me? I can boil, fry or scramble eggs and, for a heavier meal, throw a heap of whatever is available into the same pot and create an all-in-on stew that I call “gurk”. But cooking individual dishes like he was doing was like speaking Mandarin or Greek for me.
When the man finally finished, there were the unique flavours that he had somehow magically injected into every dish that turned me into a food paro craving more and more and more until every possible square inch of space in my stomach was fully stocked to overflowing.
Don’t ask. I would hardly have to tell you that I would have concentrated mostly on a massacre of the leg of baked pork and its cousin, the honeyed leg ham while my favourite Ah Want a Piece of Pork played on the stereo among my Trini parang collection.
Beyond my home, I also got the distinct impression that the imminent and inescapable long stormy days and nights ahead did not deter most Barbadians from also enjoying what for thousands could very well be their last real Christmas. For how long? Nobody knows.
The spirit of joy and happiness, giving and sharing was so pervasive that I was reminded of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous lyric from his big movie musical hit Jesus Christ Superstar: “What’s the fuss, tell me what’s happening”.
What’s happening is that, as it was back in Ancient Egypt in Joseph’s day, we have had our years of plenty and now we are into our years of famine during which the beautiful, well-fed, meaty cows are about to be devoured by the bony, very sickly looking one, which will show no gain in weight or even appear to have eaten anything.
So welcome the New Year and the end of the fatted calf.
• Al Gilkes heads a public relations firm.

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