Monday, February 28, 2022

Keep Your Sweet Pepper And Tomato Out Of My Ackee And Saltfish

It has been said many times that food is the staff of life and we are also what we eat.


I love eating ackee and especially when it’s joined in matrimony with saltfish. Most exciting, the national dish of the island of Jamaica is ackee and saltfish. It is delicious and is on most menus at Caribbean restaurants in North America. In most places one has to dig deep into their pockets to pay for a meal of ackee and saltfish. 

It’s February 2022 somewhere in one of the Southern States of America. And where a purchase of ackee and saltfish served with two fingers of cooked green banana and two slices of cooked yellow yam totalled thirteen United States of America Dollars and no cents, ($13.00). Did the price cause your eyes to bulge? Mine did when I looked at the menu but at that moment it was better than purchasing the ingredients and going home with my tired body to cook. Furthermore, I think I warrant a treat from me at least once a month. I strongly believe that financial provisions should be in place to allow me to give myself a feel good moment. Even if it’s buying an ice cream in a sugar cone.

As much as I enjoy the ackee and saltfish, there are times when I am disappointed in the way it’s being prepared at the local eateries or restaurants. I find that like in everything there is an upgrade. Things and times will change, and upgrades will come but when it comes to old time ways and styles of cooking certain dishes, I believe with all my heart that they should not be tampered with. Leave things in the way it was in the beginning. Modern touch can take away the delicious taste of the things of old. And their beauty too.

I recall when ackee and saltfish was seasoned with onion, scallion, scotch bonnet pepper and black pepper and tasted finger licking good. Delicious! Toes, wiggled while eating a well prepared dish of ackee and saltfish. And just in case you have heard about seventh heaven and would like to get there; try frying a piece of pork and adding it to the ackee and saltfish. Yum! Maximum Niceness! Divine! Heavenly! Today, some people cooking at home, including me, have discontinued adding pork because of dietary or religious reasons. Regardless that the heavenly feel has been removed the savory delivery of this dish: there still remains a delightful taste but only when green, red, and yellow sweet peppers and tomato are not added. 

And here’s why I wish those ingredients were excluded: sweet peppers have overpowering flavors. They prevent me from enjoying the full flavor of the ackee. I also notice that tomatoes produce liquid and the ackee will lose its fresh taste if not eaten within a certain time frame. And frankly, in my mind sometimes I do believe that when the ackee is not enough those vegetables and fruits are added in abundance. The elders back in the day would have said such an action is done to make the amount of ackee look greater than what it is. Or, who knows maybe it’s inadvertently done to get us to eat more fruits and vegetables. 

And in all of my ackee glory and love, there are some people who cannot tolerate it. We are all different. And everyone moves to the beat of their own drum. Namaste!

Tah-tah! Seven brothers; seven different minds. 

Grace Dunkley-Asphall, Copyright © 2022

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