Fry Up The Vibes
Homesick /ˈhoʊmˌsɪk/ (adjective)- longing for home and family while absent from them.
That’s the Merriam-Webster’s definition of homesick, but does it hold true, or have as much weight, when it is a conscious decision to live far away from your home and all of the things that have made you, you? I recognize that it is a non-issue that can be quickly resolved by just going back. It’s a non-issue with an easy fix. It’s quite simple, actually.
I don’t get homesick very often because I believe that I’ve done a good job of building my life here. I have a close group of girlfriends that have become my family. I love, trust and appreciate them. I know that when I’m not feeling 100% I can call on any of them and they’ll be there for me. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that the family that I thought I was going to have here, the story that I was building, imploded on itself. And it’s hard sometimes.
So why the F*** am I doing this to myself? Well, c'est compliqué.
As much as I sometimes long for my crazy, funny, annoying, loving BIG Jamaican family and my friends back home that I think sometimes know me better than I know myself I feel like I can’t leave Paris. This is my home now and I hope it stays that way for a long time. The city and the way of life has gotten into my bones and there is no shaking it. Homesickness aside, 95% of the time I feel really good here. I’ve come into my womanhood here in a way that I am not sure would’ve been possible in New York City.
I feel free here.
I feel like me here.
Sometimes I feel guilty about wanting to making Paris my forever home because does that mean I love my family less? Does that mean I love my friends back home less? Of course not, but it’s hard to justify to yourself, and sometimes others, when the thing that, at times, makes you sad can be easily fixed by just saying goodbye.
So, when I have bouts of homesickness sometimes I keep it to myself. I simply try to incorporate elements of my old home here, notably through food. I cook Jamaican food to feel close to my family, my foundation and my culture. I am not very good at making Jamaican food and I know that I’ll never be as good as my mother. HOWEVER. Those days when I do attempt to cook Jamaican food; with the smells floating in the air, flavors dancing on my taste buds and reggae music that makes me sway my hips from side to side, I truly do feel that I am à la maison.
Fried Dumplings, saltfish and plantains
This meal is my antidote to homesickness because it's easy :) and is classically Jamaican. It’s a staple in our culture. I still have vivid memories of my mom making fried dumplings on a Saturday morning and the smell waking me up and guiding me to the kitchen where I would try my best to steal one that was still a bit hot.
It's my attempt at infusing that caribbean spice in my life in Paris and I hope that as I continue to cook Jamaican food I will perfect the techniques, combination of flavors and hopefully pass down to any future Jamaican-American-French kids I have running around Paris one day.
Jamaican fried dumplings recipe adapted from Cook Like A Jamaican
2 cups of flour
1/2 to 1 tsp Salt (if using salted butter or margarine use 1/2 tsp salt)
3 tsp Baking powder
3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter or margarine
3/4 cup Cold water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1. Combine flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl
2. Blend butter into dry ingredients with hands or mixer until crumbly
3. Add water, a little at a time, to dry ingredients until dough holds together (you may
not need all the water). Sprinkle with more flour if dough is too wet.
4. Knead dough until smooth; do not over knead. Place in fridge for 15 minutes minimum or overnight if you can
5. Shape dough into 8 small balls (enough to fit in palm)
6. Pour cooking oil into frying pan and set stove to medium-high
7. Place dumplings into pan; oil should be sizzling
8. As each side browns continually turn dumplings until all sides are brown and
dumplings are light and fluffy
This recipe makes about 8 dumplings. You can eat them all, some or share with a friend! Comme tu veux.
Salt fish stew
200 grams or about 1 cup of salt fish that has either been soaked overnight to get the extra salt off or boiled several times that same day (specifics on the podcast)
1 medium onion
2 small-medium sweet peppers
2 medium tomatoes with seeds removed
1 clove of garlic minced
Ground black pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
Debone and flake saltfish
Heat oil and sauté tomatoes, garlic, sweet pepper and onion until tender, about 6-7 minutes
Add flaked saltfish and black pepper
Lightly toss, cover, turn the stove down to low heat and allow all of those flavors to combine
1 plantain cut in half
2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
Heat oil in frying pan (make sure the pan is hot)
Peel half of the plantain
Cut into circles or diagonally
Once pan is hot add plantains one my one
Turn until both sides are a deep brown
Voilà. C’est tout. Now you too can have a little bit of Jamaica chez toi, no matter where you are.
The Fry Up The Vibes Playlist.
Nothing but pure, cool, chill Jamaican reggae vibes here. I grew up listening to this type of music, at home, at my extended families houses, in the car, everywhere essentially. There is no modern Dancehall reggae music in this playlist because, frankly, I'm not a huge fan. I am a child of the 80s, so I prefer when reggae music was more fun.
If you ever decide to make this dish, I recommend playing this in the background. It will make the meal taste even better, trust me. :)
That first super sunny and warm day of the spring/summer season you can open your window, put this playlist, close your eyes and be transported to Jakes Hotel on Treasure Beach chilling with an ice cold Red Stripe feeling 350% irie.