Well, I accepted Arline's challenge and oh boy, did I get a treat. She made callaloo and "oil down", which is made with breadfruit and pig tail. Arline told me that these dishes are soul-comforting for Trinis, and are the kinds of food they crave when they're away from their island home.
Let me begin by telling you about my experience buying the breadfruit at the public market. The vendor was, well, I'll let the photo speak for itself:
I've seen quite a few gentlemen sporting this t-shirt style. It's brilliant, really, their bellies are cool, their lower backs get a nice breeze and a break from the 85 degree weather. It works. Back to the breadfruit, which is something I'm familiar with since we also eat them in Cartagena. They are starchy and I like to think of them as glorified potatoes. Like many fruits and vegetables, breadfruit originates from Southeast Asia. I have no idea when they were brought to the Caribbean, but it must have been quite a long time ago because Arline tells me that it was cooked by slaves in Trinidad oh so long ago. On to the next ingredient in "oil down" - pig tail.
On to the preparation of "oil down". In a pot, Arline sauteed peppers, thyme, chives, salt, a super salty Trinidadian butter, garlic, and coconut milk. Let's pause there. Coconut milk - is there anything better for kicking food up a notch? I don't think so. Remind me to write an entry about Cartagena's coconut rice one of these days - to die for. Back to "oil down". The pig tail is added, followed by cubed breadfruit.
|"Oil down" broth|
|Breadfruit for "oil down"|
The ingredients were left to simmer on their own, and once they reached the right consistency, Arline blended them with a hand blender. The result was this. Simply delicious.
Finally, we were ready for me to reclaim my reputation as an open-minded eater. I received a bit of criticism for my souse entry from some readers, where I confessed that I couldn't bring myself to taste chicken feet souse. We'll, Arline is my witness - I tasted it at her house! The only difference is that instead of chicken feet, it was with pig feet. I'll say this; the sauce part is good - much like ceviche in that it is refreshing, vinegary, and cucumbery. But the pig feet, well, I simply couldn't handle the consistency. They were cold, rubbery, and piggy. Not my favorite. Arline laughed and I'm sure she understood that this dish is definitely an acquired taste.
|Pig feet souse|