As we prepare to leave Grenada and head north,back up the island chain, I can’t help but think fondly about the last few months we’ve spent on this island. We have had some amazing experiences here like celebrating Carnival, making new friends, going on hashes (local hikes) and exploring the island.
One of my favorite moments however, was learning how to make the national dish of Grenada, Oil Down – twice.
I know, the name sounds strange and kind of unappetizing, but it is hands down one of my favorite local meals to eat (other than Roti, which is chicken curry in a wrap). I love the taste, the textures, the smell, even it’s bright yellow color. It has a lovely coconut curry flavor and a rich, thick mouth feel that wraps around your tongue and hangs on your taste buds. My mouth is watering already. It is just delectable.
Although I love it, not everyone enjoys Oil Down. It’s kind of how most people feel about cilantro: either you love it, or you hate it (I love cilantro, btw). At first glance, it’s not what I’d call ‘pleasing to the eye’. It’s yellowy-orange from turmeric and has chunks and bits of everything you can imagine: meat, salted fish, vegetables, dumplings. It is by most standards a stew. That being said, it gives me the same warm and fuzzy feeling I’d get if I were eating anything my mom would cook. It’s comfort food, island style.
My kind of ‘Sunday Funday’
Now that you have a grasp of my obsession with this dish, you can understand how excited I was when I learned I could get hands on experience actually making it! At a Sunday outing on Hog Island, our pals Jamie and Nicci on SV Grateful told me about a recent Oil Down bbq of sorts that they had on the beach a month earlier. With the help of a local, they went shopping for ingredients, prepared them and then helped assemble it all to create a lovely Oil Down meal for a group of their friends.
Dave and I had been to one of these things before when we first arrived in Grenada, with our pals Mary and Nigel on SV Osprey. We spent the afternoon on a nearby beach and watched a local, Devon, make some Oil Down for us. It was fantastic, but we hadn’t actually been a part of preparing the meal. I was interested in gaining some more knowledge about local ingredients, so when Nicci suggested we schedule a bbq I was elated!
A few days later, we set a date for our shin dig and SV Grateful went shopping for all of the ingredients. On Sunday, we all gathered at Roger’s Beach Bar in the late morning to clean, peel and chop all of the veggies while Sperry, a local , and his friend Slum the Jab Jab King, readied the coconuts and prepared the meat, lobster and conch.
It took a few hours to get everything ready and then just about 1 1/2 hours to cook. It was well worth the effort in case you were wondering!