Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oil Down

Saturday we went to an Oil Down. Oil Down is the national dish of Grenada. Traditionally made by the men over an open fire (kind of like men in the states like to barbeque) an oil down is a pot full of vegetables, meat and spices. The key ingredients in oil down are breadfruit, meat (chicken, pork or fish), coconut, callaloo (similar to spinach), tumeric and dumplings but you can add other vegetables such as pumpkin, carrots, green bananas and green papaya.

Jim got right in there and helped Cutty peel and cut up the breadfruit. Cutty is a taxi driver and gives tours around the island. He arranged the oil down at a rum shack (bar) in his neighborhood and invited the yachties to come and learn how to make oil down while we hung out with him and his friends.

More cruisers get in on the act under the close supervision of an expert.

The ladies grated the coconut and tumeric.

Everything is layered into the pot, starting with the breadfruit and meat and ending with the callaloo.

Add a little local pepper sauce for flavor.

Water is poured over the grated coconut and tumeric and then it is squeezed to create milk.

Pour the coconut milk over the top, cover and let it simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.

This is Andy, our supervising chef for the day. Ruby and her grandson are in the background. All the men were eager to share their ideas and I'm sure there are friendly rivalries and competion among the chefs. Andy told me that they make oil down "all de time" during breadfruit season. The neighborhood gathers together to share a pot along with some rum, beer and conversation just like we'd gather together our friends and family for a backyard barbeque. It was great!

Cutty serving up the Oil Down.

This was a great experience, something you don't get to do on your typical vacation to the islands. The people were warm and friendly, as eager to meet us as we were them. I chatted with Ruby and her daughter who let me play with her 10 week old baby. Cutty took us for a walk around the area and pointed out the various plants growing in the lush countryside. Later Jim got an education in how to buy rum in a bar by 2 of the guys. Apparently only the tourists buy a rum and coke. Locals purchase a quantity of rum that is then poured into a smaller bottle, then mix it with coke or water. It's much more cost effective this way and you mix it the way you like it. As we were leaving the guys were giving Jim their phone numbers and telling him to call if he needed anything! We had a wonderful time!