Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Mixing it Up

Last night I went for a meal with friends at my favourite Berlin restaurant, Rosa Caleta.
At the table were five fantastic women — including the Wednesday chef and Berlin Reified. Everyone had wanted to go to RC for a while, having heard about its wonderful Jamaican-European fusion cuisine.

As a regular at the restaurant, my friends individually asked me what was good on the menu. I opted for my favourite — the Fiery Guava-Jerk Chicken, with rice and peas, boiled dumpling and vegetables. Until our food came, I had not realised that I had convinced nearly everyone to have the same thing!
                                    Fiery Guava-Jerk Chicken

Normally when I eat Jamaican, the dish I go for is Curry Goat, but as RC have their own twist on these dishes the Fiery Guava-Jerk Chicken is a must — especially as I cannot find it anywhere else. Last night it was delicious. Textured, spicy, and fruity (without being sweet)… yum. For those of you that love spicy food with a flavoured-bite, this is the place, and this is your dish — all the ladies heartily agreed.

As a huge foodie, my biggest surprise during my pregnancy is the early cravings for simple British foods: fish fingers, mashed potato and baked beans; cottage pie; bacon and egg sandwiches; baked potatoes with cheese and beans. All have been regular fixtures on my evening menu. Recently I have been getting into soups — but only clear broths such as Caribbean chicken soup, Asian noodle soup, Italian vegetable soup and my husband’s minestrone. So last night was an experiment in spice for my currently challenged palate, and the hot and elegant flavours passed the test. 

All my grandparents are Jamaican and my parents are from London, so when the illuminating owner/manager Kirk was telling our table about the co-owner/chef Troy’s brilliant Ackee Quiche (again, a RC first and my craving last summer) it hit home to me the relevance and importance of the fusion between European and Caribbean culture. At one point I said, ‘I think I love it here because it is a celebration of my cultures on a plate.'

Back home I went online and started reading the Guardian and came across an article on a new Cbeebies children's television series called Rastamouse. I had seen smatterings of comments on Facebook but had yet to see the show.  The article asked if the rodent show was an offensive stereotyping or a culturally relevant kids show. I had never seen it so we youtubed it.

My first reaction is that it is cute and I love hearing the accents, and my second reaction was to be annoyed that so many people think it is 1) racist and 2) damaging to children’s speech (unlike Teletubbies?). But these characters are not pretending to be black people — they are moral mice with a patois accent! The other idea being banded around is that because the mice talk about cheese in a patois accent they are actually insinuating the selling of weed, which is ludicrous and verging on the offensive.

The BBC has a tough battle ahead — generally, when it comes to ethnic representation they are dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t. When I was growing up there were hardly any positive representations of black people on TV, apart from Desmond’s, so when I look at Rastamouse I think: Great! When our child is old enough they will be able to watch a television show with some characters whose voices are not too dissimilar to those of their Jamaican great-grandparents. I say Irie! Whatdoyouthink?

1 comment:

  1. "Moral mice with a patois accent". . . love that. If the accents are authentic then it's all good. The assumption that cheese could be weed is a racist association of Jamaicans and can't be blamed on Rastamouse, (whose voice is hawt, btw)