Survival Guide for the Caribbean Cook.

 

 

When I first moved to Georgia, I was faced with the reality that I would no longer be able to walk one block from home and find just about any ingredient from Guyana and the Caribbean.    I lived in Richmond Hill, New York for almost 2 decades and had become very used to the convenience of living in “Little Guyana.”   You could walk into any grocery store and find cow face, or salted pigtail or “one foot fowl” (dasheen leaves).    This would not be the case in Georgia.    How did I overcome this obstacle?  I became resourceful.

Soursop on the tree. Shot was taken on vacation in Antigua.

I started looking for ingredients in International Markets, Asian and Latin stores.   When I needed  curry powder or garam masala  I would go to the Indian grocery store.   At the Asian markets I was able to fine 5 spice powder,  Chinese sausage (lap chuong), chinese long beans(bora) and various fruits.   Most of the fruit and vegetables were known by a different name, so be prepared to use google if you’re not sure it’s the same.   For example, soursop pulp is packaged as guanabana which is the Spanish name for soursop, I also picked up maracuja which is Portuguese for passion fruit.   By simply googling the name will provide all the known names of that particular fruit.  Many countries outside of the Caribbean and Guyana have the same climate and vegetation as we do, hence the same fruits and vegetables.

When it comes to meat not easily found in the supermarket such as oxtails or a goats’ head, take a trip to the butcher, chances are they have every part of the animal even if it may not be for sale.    Depending on where you live, these parts might be considered trash since no one typically eats it and you may be able to buy otherwise pricey meat for dirt cheap.   My brother lives in Middle-of-Nowhere South Dakota and was able to buy an entire cow tail (oxtail) for a mere $2 which typically sells for $4 per pound.   Be prepared to bargain a really low price…you never know, you may even get it for free.

For those who do not live in culturally diverse cities and may not have these options available, use the internet.  You can order just about anything online.    I hope my tips work for you whether you live in Arizona or Australia, because they have helped me survive living in Georgia.

SourSop Milkshake

14 oz Soursop pulp

2 cups vanilla ice cream

1 cup milk

*6 tbsp condensed milk

Nutmeg

Place soursop pulp, vanilla ice cream, milk and condensed milk in a blender and blend until smooth.  Add a pinch of nutmeg and mix.

Pour into a glass and sprinkle a bit of nutmeg on top.  Enjoy!

Notes: *Adjust the amount of condensed according to your liking.

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11 Comments

  1. Mochagold
    February 22, 2012 / 12:46 pm

    A well written and very informative post! Don’t know how I can still use this key board after all this “lehleh”! Guess I’ll have to go find some and Guanbana and make my own since it’s a 60 deg day!

  2. Mali
    February 22, 2012 / 1:46 pm

    Lovely post!

  3. Yasmin
    February 22, 2012 / 2:35 pm

    Thanks for the good tips, I live in Savannah, GA and have a hard time finding Guyanese and Caribbean ingredients.

  4. February 26, 2012 / 11:59 am

    that’s a great price for that oxtail! i buy it an international market next door, but it goes so fast i have to buy it super early in the morning. Publix always sells oxtail but it’s ridiculously expensive…. like $11 for 2-3 pounds. The drink looks great. Have to admit that I’ve never heard of it. Looks a Mexican orchata, which is rice based drink.

  5. February 27, 2012 / 10:57 am

    You’re right about poking around to find what you need. There are a lot of cross-cultural foods, so you’d be surprised where you can go to find what. It’s comforting when you are missing certain foods.

  6. Terri
    February 29, 2012 / 4:09 pm

    You had a grown man whining because we are unable to get soursop here! 🙂 he misses those things.

  7. Leo
    March 21, 2012 / 7:26 pm

    Those receipes look delicious! Great write up.
    I will give you a site where I got real fruit on powder form, I mix it with milk and ice cream to go healthy. they have mango, soursop, papaya, etc. A lot of fruits and veggies. Enjoy guys! http://www.freshlydried.com

  8. John
    March 31, 2012 / 2:47 pm

    Soursop is so delicious. I am going to try the milkshake recipe if I ever get a blender. I have just been eating the pulp raw but it doesn’t compare to the whole fruit! In NYC I have been buying cherimoyas, I think they are the closest thing to soursop that you can get here. Thanks for your great information and pics!

    John

  9. Henry
    March 3, 2016 / 7:58 pm

    After 4 years since you made this blog post, its still as relevant as if you wrote it today. I’m from the Eastern Caribbean myself and have lived in the U.S. many years but finding Caribbean Foods of all kinds always become an issue and i’m sure to anyone else when they have to move or relocate to someplace else or state. I lived in Eastern NC for many years and always had a hard time finding Caribbean Ingredients. When I relocated to just West of Charlotte NC for a while it became allot easier and was many Caribbean Foods Market/Restaurant to find good stuff. My Cousin lived in Atlanta so when i made road trips i would pick up some stuff there too. But its no longer as easy.

    In the last year I relocated to Pittsburgh PA which don’t have any real Caribbean Foods Stores or Market. I’ve driven everywhere and hard to find ingredients. I’ve had to ask some my local grocers if its possible to carry various things. I ended up trying an Asian store in the food district in the city here and low and behold i found many of the same Caribbean ingredients there just no Breadfruit as they don’t carry it. A good Asian Grocery/Market store can be the place to shop and often much cheaper. I’m sure its the same challenge for anyone of Caribbean heritage that moves around to other states having a hard time finding the local foods they grew up with in the Caribbean and have to be resourceful to find other ways to find them in odd places. Love me that Soursop Milkshake recipe as well.

  10. Cherish Hunter
    March 16, 2016 / 10:33 am

    Hi Jehan! I love your site! Do they sell wiri wiri pepper at the Georgetown market in Decatur?

  11. JehanP
    March 16, 2016 / 2:22 pm

    Cherish they do sell it. Call ahead to see if they have it in stock.