This week I bring you a new guest blogger with a dish full of history: when I first introduced the idea for this series, Monetta commented immediately saying she knew what she would make for me…which seemed like too good an offer to miss! Monetta is not a blogger that I know as well as some of you, so what better way to get to know her better than sharing a meal?
So, over to you, Monetta…
I was so excited to cook for Elaine. I knew I wanted to cook this traditional stew and share the story that came with it. I imagine sharing the story while Elaine and I cooked together chopping ingredients and sipping tea or coconut water.
Before I get ahead of myself let me introduce myself. My name is Monetta and I try to advocate living a full and healthy lifestyle on my Blog livelifefully.net. I follow Elaine’s blog. I hope one day to make it to one of her fabulous lunches.
I am from the beautiful island of St Lucia, where my family has lived in rural villages since the end of slavery. One of my favorite meals growing up is what we call one pot stew. The hearty stew containing beans, vegetables and sometimes meat has the reputation of being poor people’s food. As a result many people in St Lucia no longer eat this food regularly, favoring a richer diet with more meat and refined foods.
Why don’t people like one pot I asked my mom? Well to answer the question she said you have to go back a hundred years to when the slaves left the plantation. The following story is history according to my mom.
When the slaves left the plantations after slavery they were poor and most of them became farmers. Because they didn’t have many animals or modern refrigeration they only ate fresh meat on special occasions. Namely Christmas, New Years, Easter, First Communion, Weddings etc. When they did slaughter the animals they preserved some of the meat by salting and drying. They would soak the meat in brine then nail it to the side of their house and let the Caribbeansun dry it. In the proceeding months they would add small pieces of this dried meat to their soups and stews for flavor. When this run out they would have stews of beans and vegetables. Hence the perception became that if you made one pot stew it was because you could not afford meat. That is why I proudly call this one pot stew.
I prepared this meal for Elaine because it contains no refined products or grains. As this recipe was handed down orally from one generation to the next there were no set measurements. I had to figure out the measurement so I set off cooking a meal that I have prepared for over 20 years by eye and measuring every ingredient. I will admit that I was so excited with this meal that I completely forgot to take pictures until several hours later when the carrots and spinach were not as brightly colored. Also I add the carrots and spinach a lot later than my mom and grandma did because I like them to retain some of the crunch.
Poor Man’s Stew
6 C water
2 tbsp coconut oil
3 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 C lentils
3 green plantains (can substitute root vegetables such as taro or yams)
2 C chopped spinach
1 large carrot
Salt to taste
You can make this recipe your own by replacing the lentils with your favorite beans and replacing the plantain with any starchy vegetable. You can also add meat or local in season vegetables. I hope you enjoy this meal and I can’t wait to cook with Elaine again.
Thank you so much for bringing such a new dish to me, and for telling us its history and what it means to you, I am honoured that you chose to share this with me. Thank you xx