At Cynthia Nelson’s presentation, “Diasporic Flavours,” the diversity of Caribbean cuisine took the spotlight.
Nelson, author of “Tastes Like Home: My Caribbean Cookbook,” writer for two newspapers and professor of journalism shed light on the style of cuisine that Nelson says to be “steeped in tradition.”
In her research, experience and presentation of Caribbean cuisine, Nelson finds one of the most frustrating questions to be “[what is] quintessentially Caribbean?” The cuisine is often generalized, she said.
“If it has a wedge of pineapple or slice of mango or shavings of coconut, suddenly it’s Caribbean,” Nelson said when explaining the thoughts of those who “reduce [Caribbean cuisine] to a garnish.”
“We can actually trace the lineage,” Nelson said in reference to the origins of the food.
Caribbean cuisine draws its influence from Africa, China and Europe, specifically Cantonese, South Indian and West African dishes as well as food from Portugal’s Madeira. Vincy, Lucian, Antigua, Grenadian, Bajan, Trini, Guyanese, Dominican are all styles of Caribbean cuisine.
With the help of student volunteers, dining services, Assistant Professor of Anthropology-Sociology William Hope — who teaches Culture and Identity in the Caribbean — and Helmut Mayer, guests at the presentation were able to enjoy delicious roti, dahl and ginger beer. During the presentation, Nelson gave a demonstration of how to make the same roti the guests were to consume later on.
“Food and the culture really go together. I really like Cynthia’s personality and I’ve learned a lot about how to interpret the meaning of the food while tasting it,” sophomore Ramona Lin said. Lin is a student in Hope’s Culture and Identity in the Caribbean course.
“I came because it sounded interesting and I like food,” Galesburg resident Micah Day-O’Connell, one of the many guests attending the presentation that was not enrolled in the course, said.
“It’s really fun because we get to eat and hang out with people. The food is really good, and Cynthia is really awesome,” sophomore Jessica Howard said.