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Rum Punch

The rum punch flowed freely at two events I attended last week. And as I sipped my third glass at the most recent – a birthday party for a long time family friend – I got to wondering about the history of this popular concoction.

According to Wikipedia, punch has been around for centuries. Seventeenth-century Royal Navy sailors who were used to receiving daily beer rations brought it back to England from India.

Wine or brandy was used until around 1655, when Jamaican rum became the fashionable spirit and a new flavor of punch was created. (Rum also replaced beer and the daily ration became known as the rum ration. The rum ration continued until the 1970s.)

Rum Punch

Calico Jack Rum Punch

From England, the use of punch expanded to other European countries and eventually, naturally, to the colonies.

Ask most Jamaicans how to make rum punch and you’re likely to be given the following direction: One of sour (lime juice), two of sweet (syrup), three of strong (Wray & Nephew Overproof rum), four of weak (water) – simple enough, right? You’ll also see this direction is the description of Planter’s Punch, a type of rum punch that apparently, was created in Jamaica.

A wine-glass with lemon juice fill, of sugar the same glass fill twice
Then rub them together until
The mixture looks smooth, soft, and nice.
Of rum then three wine glasses add,
And four of cold water please take. A Drink then you’ll have that’s not bad —
At least, so they say in Jamaica.
– From the September 1878 issue of the London magazine, Fun.

Just goes to show, there’s a story behind even the simplest food or drink.

Even with a recipe as simple as this, in my opinion, it takes a certain level of skill, and perhaps experience, to mix these four ingredients, to balance them so one doesn’t dominate the other.

Although it can last for several months after it’s been made (and usually tastes richer), we usually make it from scratch for each occasion, and most people I know wouldn’t even touch the prepared stuff.

I didn’t until my neighbor introduced me to Calico Jack Rum Punch. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the closest there is to the real thing. I served it at a dinner party last Christmas and even my finicky aunt (who knows a thing or two about making rum punch) agreed that it was good. Unfortunately, I have not found it outside Jamaica.

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Pickapeppa Sauce, a Jamaican Original

I hadn’t thought of Pickapeppa Sauce until my friend, Susan, asked me to pick up a bottle for her. Her supply had run out and she couldn’t find the popular sauce in her neighborhood grocery store.

Her simple request brought back a flood of memories reminded me how beloved this original Jamaican sauce is. It is the only prepared sauce my mother and grandmother used.

I remember being fascinated by Pickapeppa Sauce, from its distinctive label of a bird contemplating a bright red bird pepper to the unusual name of the rural community, Shooter’s Hill, where Pickapepper Company is located.

Pickapepper Sauce, a Jamaican Original

Pickapepper Sauce

Pickapeppa is versatile. You can use it as a marinade, a meat sauce, a steak sauce, barbecue and pepper sauce, and to flavor everything from vegetables to scrambled egg.

Slightly thick and dark, more sweet than peppery, Pickapeppa is made from onions, tomatoes, tamarind, mango, raisins, sugar, cane vinegar, salt, pepper, and spices. The ingredients are blended and left to age in oak barrels for a year before bottling.

The Pickapeppa Company has been making Pickappa Sauce for 93 years at its location in Shooter’s Hill, Manchester. The company, which has been family-owned since 1945, employs about 50 people and purchases approximately 80% of its raw materials from local farmers.

Pickapeppa exports 95% of its products and earns approximately US$1.5 million annually, primarily from exports to the US. This local favorite can be found in restaurants and pantries worldwide and, I’ve discovered, is even sold at Walmart and on Amazon.

Pickapeppa Baked Buffalo Style Wings
Serves 20
The easiest way to make hot wings that are crispy without being fried. You can add more cayenne or Pickapeppa Sauce to butter ratio if you like them spicer.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
2 hr
Ingredients
  1. ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  2. ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  3. ½ tps garlic powder
  4. ½ tps salt
  5. 20 chicken wings
  6. ½ cup melted butter
  7. ½ cup Pickapeppa Sauce (your choice of heat and flavor)
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease with cooking spray. Place the flour, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and salt into a resealable plastic bag, and shake to mix. Add the chicken wings, seal, and toss until well coasted with the flour mixture. Place the wings onto the prepared baking sheet, and place into the refrigerator. Refrigerate at least one hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C)
  3. Whisk together the melted butter and Pickapeppa Sauce in a small bowl. Dip the wings into the butter mixture, and place back on the baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until the chicken is not longer pink in the center, and crispy on the outside, about 45 minutes. Turn the wings over halfway during cooking so they cook evenly.
InsideJourneys http://insidejourneys.com/
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Mannish Water Soup, An Aphrodiasic?

Though it seems simple enough, I’ve never made mannish water soup. I’ve never even tried to. Perhaps because it’s one of those Jamaican dishes that is best to cook outdoors over a wooden fire – sweat pouring down the face, arms and back, smoke stinging the eyes.

Or, perhaps as the name suggests, it should be prepared by men, which it is. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of or seen a woman making mannish water soup. (Maybe with Jamaicans who live abroad, roles might have changed. Ditto the preparation. It’d be difficult to build a fire and cook outside.)

Considered an aphrodisiac, mannish water soup, is made from goat’s offal – the intestines, head, feet and testicles – which are scrupulously cleaned then washed (now, that I’ve seen women do), the head and feet roasted over an open fire then scraped to remove hair (I’ve seen boys no more than 10 do this part).

The meat is then cut into small pieces, mixed with green bananas, coco, yam, carrots, spinners (dumplings), seasoned with Scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, etc., and left to reduce to a delicious soup.

Mannish water soup gets its distinct flavor from the bananas with a light smoky taste from the goat.

Mannish water soup is served hot as an appetizer, in paper cups at large gatherings, like the weddings, parties. For less casual dining, like the event I attended this week, it is served in soup plates. You can even add white rum to kick the flavor up.

Admittedly, mannish water soup isn’t for everyone so I was surprised to see a recipe on the Food Network, even more surprised that it suggested that lamb could be substituted. Wonder what the purists would think.

So is mannish water soup an aphrodiasic? Well…it probably depends on how much you end up drinking.

Mannish Water Soup
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Ingredients
  1. 4 lb. goat’s head, tripe and feet (get butcher to cut in small pieces)
  2. 12 green bananas
  3. 1 lb. flour for spinners
  4. 3-4 hot peppers
  5. 1 lb. coco
  6. ½ lb. carrots
  7. ½ lb turnips
  8. 3 chochos
  9. 3 gallons water
  10. ½ lb scallion
  11. 4 sprigs thyme
  12. 2 lb. yam
  13. Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Chop meat into small pieces (if not already chopped)
  2. Wash and place in a 5-gallon container with 3 gallons of hot water.
  3. When the water returns to a boil, simmer until meat is cooked soft (about 2 ½ -3 hours).
  4. Peel green bananas and add all other ingredients, except for flour, i.e. vegetables, seasonings etc. cook uncovered for one hour more.
  5. Use flour to make spinners. Add to stock.
  6. Correct seasoning and remove hot peppers. Add more water if necessary.
  7. Serve hot.
Adapted from The Real Taste of Jamaica
Adapted from The Real Taste of Jamaica
InsideJourneys http://insidejourneys.com/
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Curried Goat

I’ve been making curried goat about three to four times a month since January, more than I usually do, after my nutritionist suggested that I add some animal protein to my diet. I’m not complaining – I love curried goat. I could eat it every week.

Until maybe 10 years ago, you’d find curried goat on the menu only on special occasions and large gatherings where lots of food is needed like weddings, parties and funeral. Typically, the host would buy a goat and have it butchered.

He would then hire a chef or someone from the community, usually male, who’s skilled at making curried goat. There’s nothing more disappointing and potentially embarrassing than unpalatable curried goat.

The chef would clean the goat and cook it out in the open. Every part of the animal would be used: the intestines (sometimes with the head and feet) to make a soup (called goat head or mannish water).

The flesh slow cooked in curry, Scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, scallions, garlic, ginger, and pimento berries. Some chefs add lime juice and white rum. Chunks of carrots and potatoes would also be added to make it a hearty stew, which typically, is served with white rice, sometimes roti.

Following the abolition of slavery, the government looked abroad for workers. They went as far as India where potential workers were lured by the promise of making a fortune working on sugar plantations. The Indians brought with them their curry and curried goat, roti, and callaloo.

These days, you can find curried goat on the menu of almost every restaurant that sells local foods. It’s still the go-to meal for any occasion where large groups gather.

Curried Goat
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Ingredients
  1. 4 tablespoons Jamaican curry powder
  2. 2 fresh Scotch bonnet peppers, seeded and minced
  3. 3 garlic cloves, minced
  4. 1 large onion, diced
  5. 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  6. 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  7. Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  8. 3 pounds bone-in goat meat (from leg) cut into 1-inch cubes
  9. 2 tablespoons butter
  10. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  11. 1 bay leaf
  12. 4 boiling potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
  13. 2 medium carrots, cut into chunks
  14. Juice of one lime (optional)
  15. White rum (optional)
  16. Water to cover the meat
Instructions
  1. In large bowl, mix curry, peppers, garlic, onion, scallions, thyme, salt and pepper. Add to meat and mix to coat. Refrigerate and marinate at least 1 hour and up to 12.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add remaining curry, stirring constantly, until it colors the oil. (To make it peppery, fry the pepper in the oil before adding the meat.)
  3. Add meat in batches, brown on all sides. When all the meat is browned, add water, remaining marinade, bay leaf, and optional limejuice and rum. Bring to a simmer, cover and slow cook 1 hour.
  4. Add potatoes and cook until sauce thickens, meat is fork tender and potatoes are cooked, 30 to 40 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
  5. Serve with white rice.
InsideJourneys http://insidejourneys.com/

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