Friday, April 19, 2024

Nothing new under the sun

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For years we have been concentrating on devising new ways to utilise the fruit, root crops and vegetables we grow here. 

Apart from providing employment for some of our citizens, this thrust would enable the country to increase its substitution of imported items while saving valuable foreign exchange.

The late Carmeta Fraser and Mildeane Massiah are two people who have shouted this gospel from any soapbox or rooftop they could find.

In the 1970s, “Instant Yam” was the rage. Nowadays, flour made from cassava, breadfruit and sweet potato is being promoted as part of the latest initiative in the utilisation of local produce.

The Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) has recognised Fraser’s sterling contribution and has accordingly adopted “Carmeta” as the brand name for its products, of which we can be proud.

Recently, however, while reading Albert Jack’s book on the origins of many of the famous (and not so famous) foods and recipes from almost every corner of the globe, I was surprised by his revelation on the origins of lasagna.

He claimed that lasagna is the oldest member of the pasta family and that Quintus Horatius Flaccus, the Roman poet (better known to us as Horace), writing in the first century BC, mentions this pasta as being consumed on a daily basis.

This certainly piqued my interest, but this paled into insignificance when Jack mentioned that Marco Polo, the 13th century Venetian explorer, in his writings on the Orient, stated that he had eaten lasagna made from breadfruit flour, rather than wheat flour.

While I applaud the efforts of the BADMC and the local agriculturists in their pursuit of agricultural product diversification, it appears that truly “there is nothing new under the sun”.

– ROLLINS HOWARD

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