I don’t know about the whole Caribbean, but in The Bahamas and Jamaica boiled starchy vegetables are called ‘boiled food’. If you see that written on any menu, you can expect some combination of pumpkin, cassava, green banana, plantain, sweet potato, savoury potato and yam. Boiled food is an option in basically any situation where you might want rice, although of course there are the classic ‘and rice’ or ‘and food’ combinations. Curry belongs with rice. And how are you gonna eat saltfish without green banana? One morning this week I ate boiled food with steamed callaloo for breakfast, and while I can’t pretend like I wasn’t all – Yassss, gettin them greens in! – it was still hearty and comforting.
Callaloo is a staple green in Jamaica, where it’s often steamed with scotch bonnet pepper and other add-ins and eaten as a side. It’s a little bitter, but not too much so, and the texture when cooked reminds me of the leaves of cooked lacinato kale. My breakfast callaloo was garlicky and spicy, with carrots and a little saltfish added for extra colour and texture. Then on the side, boiled green banana and yellow yam. I didn’t actually make the callaloo, so I’m not certain how it was prepared, but I’d guess you start with the garlic, pepper, saltfish and carrots, and once those have softened add in the callaloo and steam for 6-8 minutes.
Since I’ve been here I’ve also had a callaloo patty from this fab vegetarian café my friend introduced me to, New Leaf. Last night I made golden milk with freshly dehydrated and ground turmeric – life.changer. – and I’ve enjoyed a few spicy, gingery green juices from the foodstore around the corner. Lest you think my meals have been all health and no holiday, there’s been a regular intake of chocolate and one dreamy trip for Devon House ice cream, thank you very much.
My days here are pretty low key. Most of the time I’m at home organising and planning on my computer, but I have dates with family and friends sorted out around their work schedules. One of my favourite things to do in Kingston is drive up through the hills, and happily I’ve already done that more times than I can count. I’ll be here a couple more weeks, with more of the same, then I touch down in Nassau and wham that holiday pace is gonna hit me. I’ve got a wedding to stand in on top of everything else fam. How’s your December going so far? I’d also love to know if you’ve ever tried callaloo, and your favourite ways to eat it!