Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Spicy Grenadian China Pt.1

December's here...Best month ever!!! Parang is blaring on the radios, the minced fruits are getting that last infusion of wine and houses are getting their annual makeover; well back home that is. All these preparations come to a climax on the 25th - The birth of Jesus Christ. And since the most I'll be  able to celebrate is the start of my exams, here are the dishes and beverages that made it to my 

Spicy Grenadian Christmas wish list

1. Sorrel


Known to the Europeans as a medicinal herb and spinach sub, the Sorrel plant (Hibicus Sabdariffa) provides the go-to-drink for the holidays. You can find it in any bar or road side shop, and most likely in your fridge. They even make Sorrel soda!! Now you're wondering 'Who would ever drink spinach soda, besides, maybe descendants of Popeye'. Let me set you straight. Our early colonisers use the leaves but we prefer flower power. Luckily, Africans and Indians have been enjoying the entire plant since its discovery.

In China, the flower is known as 玫瑰茄 [meiguiqie] which roughly translates as 'rose pieces'. It is actually out of season by the end of September, unlike in the Caribbean, where it blooms just in time for Christmas. Memories of slashing away at thorns were painful but it was the only way to ensure that I got a sip of the spiked version of the drink, quite the privilege for a preteen at the time.

Naturally, Sorrel is very rich in Oxalic Acid, which not only gives the drink its tart flavour but leaves your pots mirror-clean. It also opens the appetite which is why you should ALWAYS drink it with a slice of black cake or salted ham sandwich. Most importantly, Sorrel contains flavonoids (a type of antioxidant), Vitamins C and B and Calcium linking it to reduction of cholesterol levels and possibilities of cancer. No wonder we get get away will all that overeating...Salted ham lovers you may just have a chance after all. 

Here are two versions of the drink. Whether you choose to use the white or red sorrel calyx, get ready to start a party in your mouth that won't end until you say so, unless of course, it finishes before you do. 

Grenadian Sorrel Drink (as Made in China)

50g dried Sorrel calyx
4 cups water
6 heads whole clove
3 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
1/4 cinnamon stick
Sugar to taste
Clark's Court White rum to bring all the flavours together

Bring Sorrel and spices to a boil and leave to steep overnight. Strain and add desired amount of sugar. Don't forget the white rum, its really isn't the same without it. Add ice and sip away....

Nafissatou's Sorrel Drink 'Mali-Style' 

50g dried Sorrel calyx
4 cups water
1/4 cup fresh ginger, chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves
Sugar to taste

Bring all ingredients except sugar to a boil. Finally, add desired amount of sugar. Aftering chilling, steady yourself for an explosive kick of gingery mint...3,2,1 Drink!!