On Saturday April 2nd, I had the joyous experience of meeting Caribbean cookbook author Cynthia Nelson, a Guyanese native residing in Barbados, who is currently on a book tour to promote her first publication, “Tastes Like Home – My Caribbean Cookbook”. Her cookbook grew out of her eponymously titled blog ‘Tastes Like Home’ (here's the link: http://www.tasteslikehome.org/ ) where she was basically cooking the foods she loved from her childhood, and experiencing new tastes and flavours in her second home of Barbados.
|Me and Cynthia Nelson at Nigel R Khan's Bookstore in West Mall, Westmoorings.|
When she began the blog, she found Caribbean natives all over the world who were in love with the dishes she talked about with such love, and they kept asking her for more. Now, after hooking up with Randle Publishing in Jamaica, she is busy promoting Tastes Like Home throughout the Caribbean. Her book tour began in her homeland of Guyana, and as I write, her Trinidad visit ends today, after which she’ll be winging her way to… oh my, I forgot to ask! Hahahaa!
|Cynthia: "How do you spell your name, dear?"|
Ever since I found out that Cynthia was going to be in Trinidad, I was truly excited at the prospect of getting her cookbook, and of course, meeting her. There were so many things I wanted to ask her about getting published, just so I would have an idea of what to do when my own labour of love was finally complete – and as you know, it’s been a few years well of rewrites, retesting recipes and reshaping. I long to be able to wake up one morning and go through my lists and be able to say, “Eureka, my cookbook is finished!”
Anyways, I eagerly took my lunch hour on Friday with my friend Crystal and made the trek to Nigel R Khan at West Mall to meet her, thinking that she would have been there that day, but the book signing was scheduled for Saturday instead. But I was glad that I could pick up my copy of Tastes Like Home early and bring it back to the office, where it passed from person to person, each marvelling at the mouth-watering photos of familiar local favourites such as callaloo, tomato choka, rotis and more.
|And photos like this one... Cynthia's Fried Salt Fish (page 110 of Tastes Like Home) looks so scrumptious!|
My favourite section though, is the one that precedes the recipes, her food memoirs. I realised that Cynthia and I share a real love of food and the journey ingredients take before preparation. Food is more than just sustenance to us. It’s memories of home with images of Mother (or in my case, Granny) cooking up a favourite dish or two. It’s going to the market and being hit with a combination of smells and lingering odours of shopping bags and stall displays, some cloying, others so fragrant you want to do nothing else but stop and smell the fruit you’ve come to find.
Even as I type and glance at my copy of Tastes Like Home, I am filled with hope that someday I will be in her position, promoting the tastes of my own country’s cuisine and family favourites and sharing that abundant food love. Cynthia’s winning smile alone warmed my heart, just as her dishes will warm happy stomachs. I am glad I was able to discover her blog last year when I was searching for a butter flap recipe from my childhood – I’m really happy that it’s also featured in her cookbook. Even happier was meeting fellow blogger Wizzy the Stick at Cynthia’s book signing, and her own blog Breakfast Lunch, Dinner and Punch” (here's the link http://breakfastlunchdinnerandpunch.blogspot.com/ ) has joined my foodie list. (Thanks again, Wizzy!) Ah, the joys of food writing; you never know who you will meet!
Well, I must now make my exit. Sadly, I did not do any cooking today. A happy trip to the supermarket with my girl Hazel and her hubby (thanks again, guys) yielded some wonderful finds and inspirations for new blog posts, but after putting everything away, the old knee decided to revisit me with some stiffness and pain. So, I am resting it atop my feather cushion while my boy is off to collect some Sunday Lunch from his sister for the two of us. But worry not, there is still more to come from the ol’ Halcie yet, so stay tuned. In the meantime, everyone enjoy your Sunday and like I always say, doh forget to mind de pot! Much love and many hugs! :-)