Sunday, April 29, 2012

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA: THE FOOD


This was a meal that required a lot of time. Not so much that I really had, but it managed to work out in the end. It all started with trying to find conch. The first place I went to was out, but I did manage to find it at the Saraga International Grocery Store for $10/lb. (That place is huge! I wish I had more time to look around.)  And then we promised the kids we’d buy them their own bikes with some of the tax refund – no hand-me-downs this year. But needless to say, it set my start time back a couple of hours.  No problems though.

The first thing I started was the bread since I knew it would have a lot of resting time involved. It seemed like after every step, it had to rest for an hour or something. (Sounds like my dream job…)

Shhh... it's resting.  
While it was resting, I got started on the ducuna.  It starts out with grated sweet potato, which also seemed like I’d never get to the end of that task. But then after I added sugar, it –of course—had to rest an hour.

Grated sweet potato and sugar. It's also resting. I feel like I just walked into naptime at the culinary daycare.  
I made a Caribbean tarter sauce for the conch fritters. I’m not a huge fan of tarter sauce in general, but this one didn’t add horseradish, one of the very few foods I DON’T like. So, I thought it wouldn’t be too bad. It was way more tolerable than regular tarter sauce, but I’m still not a fan. Tarter sauce ranks right up there with Monday mornings, stepping in mud puddles in sandals, and the Twilight series.

Then I ran back to the bread to kneed it (or as we called it, punching the dough) and formed it into the rolls.  After that, you guessed it, it had to rest another 45 minutes to an hour.

Beat on the bread, beat on the bread, beat on the bread with a baseball bat. Well, ok, the Ramones did it better. 
Which then gave me time to start chopping the vegetables and conch for the fritters. (The word is still out on the correct pronunciation of the word conch: some say /kahnch/ and some, like in south Florida, pronounce it /kahnk/.  Maybe they're both right. I pronounced it /kahnk/ in the store and they had no idea what I was talking about. Then they said "Do you mean /kahnch/?")  I made the batter and mixed everything together. And –can you believe it? —it had to rest in the refrigerator for an hour.

By now I was ready to put the bread in the oven.  Yeah! After 25-30 minutes, it was ready! (Finally…)

Mmmm... woo-hoo! 
 Then I was able to wrap the ducuna into foil balls and put them in boiling water for 50 minutes. The directions said that it has to cool completely, or it’d be sticky. Well, I cooled it down, and it was still a little sticky.  Maybe I didn’t have enough flour in it or something. I thought it was supposed to be more solidified.

Putting the ducuna in a foil bed and dunking it in boiling water. Hmmm, sounds a little like a spa treatment. 
The fritters turned out really well at first sight, but I had to put some of them back in the oven because the insides weren’t quite done. But after that, it was really good (minus the tarter sauce, that is). 

That's $8.99 in a restaurant. Just leave your tip on the table when you leave. 
 Overall, it took a lot of time to make this dinner. It taught me patience and planning in making this. And for a meal that had to constantly rest, I certainly wasn’t able to. The bread turned out amazing, but to be authentic, it was missing an ingredient, besides the vanilla extract I forgot to put in.  In Antigua, this is known locally as a bun and cheese. They take the bun that I made and put a sort of cheese spread on it. I think it's made with cheddar cheese, but I forgot the research to find a recipe for it. So, I was only halfway authentic. But that’s ok. The kids enjoyed the conch fritters (which to me, the conch had the chewiness of octopus and the taste of a scallop). And when the kids eat it (and I’m including my 3-year-old whom I sometimes call Mikey [from the old Life cereal commercial: “give it to Mikey; he hates everything”]), it must be good.

Not sure if this is what it was supposed to look like, but it was good nonetheless. 

Up next: Argentina

Resources:
Antigua raisin cheese bun –

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