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A taste of the Caribbean

bajan in ny


On a beautiful summer’s night in early June, patrons attending the Rum & Rhythm event, sampled award-winning Caribbean rums, enjoyed Caribbean cuisine and rum-infused delicacies prepared by Caribbean chefs, and danced to wonderful music.

This new affair was part of Caribbean Week in New York –– a series of business meetings and consumer events organized by the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) New York office to showcase the warmth, spirit and vibrancy of the Caribbean. In addition to direct contact with consumers, it was also designed to provide extensive media exposure for participating CTO members and partners.

In the end, the $100 affair was boasted an enjoyable Friday after-work party at which patrons got a true taste of the Caribbean, including Barbados.

At ground level, near the Tribeca junction, vehicular traffic heading towards Holland Tunnel was heavy and slow.  Eleven storeys up, on the western side, was a spacious Tribeca catering facility, facing a brilliant setting sun (uninhibited by the paned glass windows), with its tables displaying the Caribbean food, drinks and delicacies.

As time passed, one got to see another beautiful scene –– a welllit city. This transition of light from dusk to the glow of the rising moon, as could be somewhere in Barbados was a perfect setting for eating outside.

And on the eastern side of this rectangular facility, stood other tables in a silent auction, with people writing their bids down for the items offered –– and against background                       Latin music.

The choice of Caribbean delicacies and drinks reflected the historical diversity of the islands: English, French, Dutch and American, and comprised meats, side dishes and desserts. By 8 p.m. all food tables were crowded. Interestingly, the wait for the Barbados, Grenada and Jamaica offerings appeared the longest.

Naturally, I first sampled the Barbadian cuisine of pumpkin fritters (with grated coconut and almost tasting like a fried conkie), fish cakes, and macaroni pie (with seasoned roasted corn and bacon bits) –– all served with rum sauces.

Without knowing the judging criteria, and notwithstanding my bias, it was no surprise to me Barbados won second prize for its presentation.

The other delicacies I tasted included Grenada’s breadfruit pie and “oil-down”; Antigua’s fungi (cou-cou) served with pickled shark and pickled pig feet; and the US Virgin Islands coconut jelly dessert.

The food and drinks for the Barbados display were prepared by chefs Craig Greenidge and Chehan Burnham and mixologists Jamaal Bowen and Dameain Williams.

Those attending the event included Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, Consul General at New York Lennox Price and Barbadian Rudy Grant, who is now the chief executive director of the Grenada Tourism Authority.

Earlier in the week, the Barbados Tourism Authority had free tastings in Manhattan and Brooklyn as part of a community outreach programme. The band Cover Drive also performed at Bloomingdale’s on 59 Street. The Brooklyn tasting was held at the Barbadian-owned Brooklyn Moon Café.

According to a BTA release, the thriving Caribbean Diaspora is viewed as one of the most valuable allies in promoting tourism. Part of this community outreach programme during the CTO week is therefore designed to strengthen relationships and share information.

Ultimately, the long lines of non-Barbadians who sampled our drinks and food spoke volumes about how others see us.


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