My Jamaican Memories of Chocolate tea – Chef Irie Food Stories

My Jamaican Memories of Chocolate tea - Chef Irie Food Stories

If you are a yawdie or fram di Caribbean yuh Beta kno bout. So every ingredient has a story. My motto, We should share our experiences about our foods and cultures, one ingredient at a time on the plate. Here’s part 1..

So these are Chocolate balls made from the cocoa pods. Sometimes they have sugar in them most times they don’t. We use it in Jamaica to make hot chocolate, or if yuh is ah tru yawdie, hot Chawklit tea. Grated or left to dissipate in hot simmering water with cinnamon sticks or fresh leaves. Some will sweeten with sugar with milk added, but best if you ask me is sweetened with condensed milk & served in an …. mek ah tell you later.

Unless it was an emergency, summers or Xmas time before my gramps came to live with us when I was a kid in ja, were the two times my dad would be able to go visit him in Carisbrook, St. Elizabeth. Summers were best for him taking me because there was more time. Exciting for me because that meant riding the train which was in operation at the time. I just remember saving up my coins because at some opportune stop I’m buying peppa shrimp and roasted cashew from vendors sticking their baskets through the windows. Best price & freshest bags win. It’s crazy because we’d catch the train about 7am (train pack by this stop, no seats) at Gregory Park & not make it to our final destination, Maggotty train station till about 10ishpm, sometimes later. There’s no train system now & that journey you can now make in far less time because of new highway systems. After getting off, we’d take a taxi up the ways a bit to the hill in the dead of night. Everyone knew my father. Mr. Sinclair, good fi si yuh sah. Being the junior tike, even at 6, country people called me Mas Sinclair.

My father was always amazed that I knew where I was going in the dark with my little grip. Stepping with confidence over rockstone lined path. Hell, I’m longing to see gramps. Why? They’ll be breakfast ah mawnin. Why is this important? Hot chawklit tea. Gramps was a typical country man. He farmed, tended crops, took the goats and cows further up the hillside for the day so they could feed and took care of other business. Waking at 8, my gramps day was almost done and breakfast done ready. Sometimes there was a choice but most times you get weh yuh get. No coffee this morning but today fresh mint tea draw & chawklit tea ready sitting in an enamel container right next to the fire place with dying embers. There was no gas stove at my gramps place. It was an outdoor hut kitchen and it was very organized. Everything got cooked pon open flames on top of the three rock stone with metal grating or on one of several coal pots that lined the back wall. My father was usually gone by the time I got up. You know, people to see. Better for me, more time to spend with gramps. I shall now pour hot chawklit tea in my big Enamel mug wid di chip up chip bottam and rim.

About Chef Irie

Chef Irie
Chef Irie has always had a passion for cooking and felt right at home in the kitchen. After working several years as an architect, the yearning to create culinary masterpieces became too strong to ignore. He enrolled at Johnson & Wales University and embarked on a culinary journey that’s taken the South Florida culinary landscape by storm! Chef Irie has appeared in several TV cooking shows, including “Taste the Islands with Chef Irie” on American Public Television and the Food Network’s ever-popular, “Cutthroat Kitchen.” As a personal and private chef, Chef Irie has been able to work with entertainers, professional athletes, and many of South Florida’s elite. Chef Irie has also represented Jamaica cooking at the Iconic James Beard House and The United Nations building in New York.

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