Wiri Wiri Pepper
How do three generations of a family’s Guyanese gardening and food traditions take root in America? ala Ajee’s House and Gardens, whose parents and grandparents grew food in their own yard in Cumberland, and Allness Village Guyana, using seeds harvested from their own gardens and organic techniques that Ajee’s family have incorporated into their own gardens.
There are many benefits of eating fresh produce. Whether your garden is in the small front yard in Washington DC, or multiple raised beds at Ajee’s House, everyone is capable of growing their own delicious, organic produce while getting the nutrition they need and enjoy tastier food. Many studies have shown that organically grown food have more minerals and nutrients that we need than food that has been grown with synthetic pesticides. There’s a good reason why many chefs use organic foods in their recipes; they taste better. Organic farming starts with the nourishment of the soil, which in turn leads to nourishment of the plant and ultimately our bodies.
The wiri wiri pepper seeds in Ajee’s garden were procured from a family garden in Florida. However, most of the seeds now being used are propagated from heirloom seeds and seeds from last year’s harvest.
Caribbean vegetables, herbs, and spices have held significance and symbolic meaning, and how the process of planting food for one’s family and eating the foods is key to preserving a sense of home and tradition, wherever you live.
There are certain signature ingredients, flavors, and stories of Caribbean-Guyana-Trinidad-Jamaica -Guadeloupe-Suriname-French Guiana-Grenada-St. Vincent-St. Kitts-St. Lucia cooking. When her kids were young, Ajee set out to explore and document her Indo-Guyanese-Caribbean ancestry and recipes as a way of tracing the stories and recipes of her parents and grandparents’ generation. It was also a way to pass on family traditions and heritage to her American born children. As we prepared a few dishes from Ajee’s site, we explored the complex social, political, and cultural history as that has led to Guyana’s distinctive cuisine, and how the dishes prepared by Guyanese and Caribbean-Americans honor the country’s rich traditions.
Caribbean and Guyana culinary traditions emerged from a commingling of Indian, African, Chinese, Portuguese migrants, European colonists, native peoples, from the Caribbean and it is how the region’s signature dishes represent its rich history. Root vegetables known as “ground provisions” now constitute a national menu: crab or fish soups with plantains, eddoes, cassava, dasheen, and coconut milk; “cook-up rice” with black-eyed peas, pigs tail, green plantain, and cassareep; Chinese fried rice, Lo Mein and Indian curries and roti.
Guyana and the Caribbean complex social, political, and cultural history has led to its distinctive cuisine, and how the dishes prepared by Caribbeans and Caribbean-Americans honor their country’s rich traditions.